Raphael Saadiq
The Way I See It


3.5
great

Review

by Tyler Munro EMERITUS
December 5th, 2008 | 14 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A fun and timeless sounding soul album for the iPod generation.

I’m too young to really care about Raphael Saadiq, and yet I do. I’ve been intrigued by the guy ever since the eerie video for “Get Involved” hit airwaves back in ’99. And I guess I’m also too young for The Way I See It to be nostalgic, and yet it is. In many ways Saadiq’s The Way I See It is an album caught in a time-lapse; the cover, the hooks, and the production just scream 60s. And yet it never feels retrofitted. Instead of cashing in on the recent soul-pop revival, The Way I See It is more like Saadiq playing the music he grew up loving. It’s nothing like the British songstresses coming out these days, and it's certainly better for it.

See, The Way I See It is a classic sounding soul album. Aesthetically, it’s right in line with Sam Cooke, the Funk Brothers or even Gladys Knight. It’s a believable classic sweet soul album, only it came out in 2008. The Way I See It doesn't rely on its retro-throwback sound as a selling point. Of course it still is, but the fact remains that on The Way I See It, Saadiq comes off like an artist who's had his successes and now just wants to let loose and record the album he probably dreamt of making as a kid.

Predictably, The Way I See It runs the gamut of classic sounding soul. “Sure Hope You Mean It” and “Keep Marchin'” bring the swing and bop about with the lighthearted “black music for white people” sound that was so hot so long ago. “Sure Hope You Mean It” uses a subtle clink to accompany the beat and while it's more likely a digital chime effect it kind of reminds the listener of those swingin' sixties parties, the Simpsons' imagination of Hugh Hefner playing “Peter and the Wolf” on a set of wine glasses. “Keep Marchin'” and its guitar hook borrow heavily from Ben E. King's “Stand By Me”, a familiar sound that rears its delightful head occasionally throughout the rest of the album.

Inspired by Spike Lee's Hurricane Katrina doc When The Levees Broke, “Big Easy” is a song with two distinct faces. Musically carried by sometimes-haunting, sometimes-soothing background vocals, walloping horns and a jumpin' and jivin' New Orleans feel,”Big Easy” sees Saadiq pairing the track's Party-Gras backdrop with an incredibly depressing story of a child lost in the water. With his voice offset by a distinct hollowness, Saadiq begs, “somebody please tell me what's going on, I haven't seen my baby in far too long”. Simultaneously blending the bleak (the lyrics) with the uplifting (swingin' piano and brass solos), truth with fiction, “Big Easy” is possibly the most poignant (or perhaps the only poignant) track on an otherwise light-hearted album.

“Just One Kiss” features frequent Saadiq collaborator Joss Stone and carries out like Barry White's “Can't Get Enough”. What's most shocking is that, perhaps as a result of their working relationship, Saadiq somehow [mostly] encourages Stone to restrain herself from over-singing. Quite possibly a first (and last) for the English songstress. The legendary and apocryphal Stevie Wonder appears on “Never Give You Up” and if you can believe it, never sings a word. Instead Saadiq shares vocal duties with up-and-coming Baltimore vocalist CJ while Stevie takes Saadiq's invitation (in the spirit of Stevie's famous invitation to Dizzy Gillespie) as his cue to deliver a short but sweet harmonica solo. Of course even without singing a word Stevie's presence is felt, his harmonica adding further authenticity to an already Wonder-riffic sounding tune.

The album's mostly fluffy nature does result in it wearing thin toward the end, but this does little to diminish the album's overwhelming likability. However had it been anything other than a bonus track, the “Oh Girl” remix (featuring Jay-Z) would probably be just enough to take the album down a peg. Calling it bad is an understatement: Jay-Z should never sing. Ever. The remix makes him seem more like Sean Kingston than the H.O.V.A and an insult that goes way is never a good thing.

The Way I See It isn't going to blow any minds, but it might open a few eyes. For many, The Way I See It is a first exposure to Saadiq's unique and versatile voice, and while it probably won't cause Tony! Toni! Toné! album's to fly off the shelves, it'll at least awaken the world to Saadiq's talent as a vocalist, instrumentalist and producer.



Recent reviews by this author
Masked Intruder Masked IntruderAtheist Jupiter
Aeon Path of FireAdam Haworth Stephens We Live on Cliffs
Autopsy The Tomb WithinOrbs Asleep Next to Science
user ratings (38)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
December 5th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

another super quick, super overdue write up. just trying to get 2008 stuff done.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
December 5th 2008


4957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

finally... i can't believe this didn't have a review already. i can cross this off of the "finish before 09" list now. awesome album.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
December 5th 2008


4957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[quote='review'] It’s nothing like the British songstresses coming out these days, and its certainly better for it. [/quote] Wrong its.
Also, there are a lot of run on sentences here dude... also at least one fragment loose in there. I know you just wanted to get this out there, but just an fyi.

jrowa001
December 5th 2008


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i love this album. i cant stand Oh Girl though

Tyler
Emeritus
December 5th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's the right its. It is nothing like.
Don't care much about run on sentences. This took fifteen minutes to write, I was more concerned with getting it done. I'll look for some quick fixes though.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
December 5th 2008


4957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

and its certainly better for it.
should have bolded or something, sorry.

Tyler
Emeritus
December 5th 2008


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

derp, got it

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
December 6th 2008


20858 Comments


Tyler, is there any truth to the rumor that you are changing your user-name to '15MinuteReviewer'?
Having said that, this is a mighty good review Coke. Good stuff.


mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
December 6th 2008


17945 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

been meaning to get this

Iai
Emeritus
December 6th 2008


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

break me off
show me what you got
coz i dont want
no 15 minute reviewer

I just found out that this guy was in Tony Toni Tone, which amused me. I know you recommended this to me ages ago but I never got it because I thought it was a 2006 release for some reason. :-/ I was saving it until January. Guess I'll listen to this within the next few days then.

Meatplow
December 7th 2008


5524 Comments


some parts of this album are simply magnificent

great review

ohcleverhansyou
December 10th 2008


885 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The summary was really all I needed to check this out. But I'll read the review...some time.

sanjusanjusanju
December 30th 2008


3 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i'm the only one who gave this a 3 i guess. this is an enjoyable album, don't get me wrong, i listened to it a lot when i got it. but it employs a lot of lazy songwriting, which is, i presume, a result of the fact that he played a lot of the instruments himself. and that's cool, but the album winds up sounding more like a demo than a finished product. and yo, fifteen minutes does not do this man justice, just saying...

lancebramsay
March 3rd 2011


1585 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fun album

oh girl is waaay out of place though.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy