"The Way I See It" by Raphael Saadiq

Raphael Saadiq
The Way I See It

Columbia Records
2008

Review

Raphael Saadiq has made a brand new Motown-era soul record. And like the best of Motown soul, you feel just a little bit happier for having heard it.

Most people associate Raphael Saadiq with his work with Tony! Toni! Tone! or from his collaboration with Dawn Robinson and Ali Shaheed Muhammad as Lucy Pearl. This album is very different from any of his work with those groups and instead embraces a sound that has not sounded this fresh in years.

I would not call this album an imitation and I would be hesitant to call it a reproduction of the sound that inspired it. Instead, it is a body of work that I feel stands on the shelf right beside those old Motown records on its own terms. Take a listen to the standouts "100 Yard Dash" and "Big Easy" to see what I mean.

Although rooted in the past there is a definite modern aesthetic to the album. Whereas a Motown record might use a less-than-obvious sexual euphemism, Raphael lets you know without a doubt what he is talking about on another outstanding song, "Let's Take A Walk" where he says,

"This place is crowded
Don't know about you
But I need some sex
Some sex with you
Cause you're on my mind
I can feel your sweat"

The backing band is consistently excellent on the album and again the sound is faithful to its origins but brought forth with modern recording and production techniques.

There are only a few tracks on the album that were not brilliant; "Just One Kiss" and "Calling" were simply not interesting enough to hold my attention and "Oh Girl (feat. Jay-Z) suffers from adding a (brilliant and talented though he may be) rapper where a rapper isn't needed.

Get this if you like Motown-era Soul. Even if you are just a moderate fan of soul music, at least listen to "100 Yard Dash". It'll have you smiling from ear to ear in no time.

4.231 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Sure Hope You Mean It (03:40) 5
2. 100 Yard Dash (02:18) 5
3. Keep Marchin' (02:37) 4
4. Big Easy (03:18) 5
5. Just One Kiss (feat. Joss Stone) (02:32) 3
6. Love That Girl (03:04) 4
7. Calling (03:44) 3
8. Staying in Love (02:53) 4
9. Oh Girl (03:34) 5
10. Let's Take a Walk (02:28) 5
11. Never Give You Up (feat. Stevie Wonder & CJ Hilton) (04:12) 5
12. Sometimes (04:06) 4
13. Oh Girl (remix) (feat. Jay-Z) (03:41) 3