Recently I was searching for some vintage Northern Soul on the tube when I came across Raphael Saadiq, a name I remembered vaguely from the very early 1990s. Saadiq was co-founder of the immensely entertaining r&b-hip-pop band Tony! Toni! Toné!.
Nowadays, after changing his name, Saadiq is a successful producer and has a solo career which saw the release of his third album late last year. "The Way I See It" left his modern r&b sound behind for a full on 60s soul retro-fest.
It is no Whinehouse-ish neo retro and it has nothing of the irony of so many 80s revivalists. From the very first note of "Sure hope you mean it" you think to hear an unnaturally crisp recording from Marvin Gaye or The Delfonics. The sound, the voice, the instrumentation, the backing vocals and of course the composition are a perfect mimicry, almost blurring the line between sampling, plagiarism, inspiration, adoration or just love for the sound of "Deep"-, "Northern"-, "Philly"-, "Motown"-Soul. Even the fade-outs sound like they were done on a vintage mixing-desk. But if you listen closely you´ll find some unexpected twists and variations in the background that subtly try to break the retro-haze.
However, the whole album sounds absolutely fantastic! The compositions are good, the vocals and the arrangements are impeccable. Even Stevie Wonder played Harmonica on one track. Listening to the album threw me back 20 years when I would buy all those KENT-compilations. Digging through hit after hit of obscure material that used to lie dormant in the vaults for decades. "The Way I See It" sounds exactly like this.
Love That Girl
Staying in Love
100 Yard Dash