A few years ago, Amy Winehouse's Back to Black (created with invaluable help from Mark Ronson and the Dap-Kings) reminded a whole bunch of (white) people about the vast aural pleasures of old-school soul. Legendary singer-songwriter-producer Raphael Saadiq has devoted most of his life to these pleasures, leading the chart-conquering new jack swingsters Tony! Toni! Toné!, producing the deep funk stew of D'Angelo's classic Voodoo, and, most recently, releasing his freakishly accomplished 2008 solo album The Way I See It. The latter is an impeccable dazzler that comes on like a one-man Motown show, with Saadiq playing all the parts, from mastermind Berry Gordy to songwriting factory Holland-Dozier-Holland to singing-songwriting superstar Smokey Robinson. That the end result manages to spring to its own 21st-century life is a testament to Saadiq's gifts.
by Dave Segal
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