|Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’
For me, this summer has pretty much been one big ball of barren blandness in terms of new music, there’s just hasn’t been a whole lot that I’ve latched on to. So I was pleasantly surprised when I decided to venture a bit outside my usual indie rock fare, and check out the latest release from R&B virtuoso Raphael Saadiq, who appears to just now be really hitting his stride as an artist. It’s one of those rare albums that’s firmly entrenched in the past, but still somehow manages to frequently transcend it’s obvious ’60s influences.
In a post-Amy Whinehouse world, neo-soul seems even more like a genre that doesn’t really have any right to have much relevance. Well as a long-time producer of modern soul artists such as D’Angelo, Joss Stone, and John Legend, as well as a member of ’90s R&B group Toni! Toni! Tone!, I think Saadiq is just an old pro when it comes to R&B/Soul, and the dude just knows how to pull from all the right influences. You can see obvious homages to Sly & The Family Stone (“Heart Attack”), Chuck Berry (“Radio”), early James Brown (“Day Dreams”), and a plethora of different ’60s sounds all over Stone Rollin’. However, you always get a sense of Saadiq’s own personality in lieu of these familiar sounds, as he’s always willing to use plenty of unorthodox ways of reshaping the sounds of the past to fit his own funky vision.
Saadiq also seems willing to mix in non-R&B influences, such as the gritty garage rock of “Over You”, or the hip-hop infused “Good Man”. Sometimes the album is brimming with a few too many different sounds, but either way it serves as a loving tribute to the music of the past, while making those sounds still feel fresh and vital today. Basically Stone Rollin’ is a testament to the idea that you can still make exciting and enjoyable music without having to be young and innovative, or pandering to those damn kids with their dubstep and their Odd Futures.
Favorite Tracks: “Go To Hell”, “Over You”, “Day Dreams”