In most music circles, Raphael Saadiq is not an unfamiliar name. The Oakland singer, songwriter, and producer first found success with his brother and cousin in Tony, Toni, Tone, which garnered commercial and critical acclaim all throughout the 1990s. He later went on to form the R&B/Soul super group Lucy Pearl with other heavyweights Dawn Robinson from En Vogue and Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe Called Quest. Saadiq later released three solo LPs, produced for many artists, and wrote songs that gained much deserved accolades, remaining a very influential artist across many genres. Now returning after 4 years with his fourth album, The Way I See It, Saadiq is offering a tribute to the music of the 1960s, a tremendous influence on the very music that he creates.
Musically, this album is very profound. Saadiq manages to capture the vibe of that era, from the production and the mixing to the overall sound of the album, making it reminiscent of a sound that captivated audiences for generations. This is seen from the outset with the tracks “Sure Hope You Mean It” and “100 Yard Dash.” The album then takes a turn down south with “Big Easy,” having one feel like they were in a speakeasy enjoying the beautiful music. The crowning moment is found in the duet “Just One Kiss” featuring Joss Stone, mainly due to the chemistry between these two artists, which is quite great. Serving as a tribute to the greats of the 60s, The Way I See It definitely gets the job done. You can imagine some of the greats of that time sitting in on a session contributing to the music and taking it to greater heights, mainly due to just their presence alone.
And that is the issue with the album. Yes, the music is great and Saadiq manages to catch lightening in a bottle with the production, but ironically, the album lacks soul. At times, it seems like this album is a mere imitation of the music that he was influenced by being way to generic and not descriptive, having the listener feel the music, but not really relating to it. All in all, this is a good album, but it is a wonder with a little bit of fine-tuning what this album could have been. – RH
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