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Raphael Saadiq is famed for being the lead vocalist in Tony! Toni! Tone! and since that he's done a lot of collaboration work and in 2008 he released this "The Way I See It" released under Sony BMG as his fourth solo album. This album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album at the 51st Grammy Awards and it's not difficult to see why.
The album is a glorious mix of sounds, soul, pop, R & B, motown styles amongst others all on show in this album. The album is very strong all the way through, with some great uplifting and chirpy tracks which are good to dance too as well.
It's a refreshing throwback to the 60s in an updated and modern style.
Sure Hope You Mean It
This track sums up the whole album perfectly. A motown sounding track, it's an excellently arranged track that sounds very chirpy. It's a mid-tempo track with a great melody. the chorus in particular is very catchy, largely owing to the backing vocals. A great way to start the album. Having said that, it would be good if the tempo was picked up a little as I think it would bring an injection of energy it may need. I saw him on TV play this at a quicker pace and it worked really well.
This is a short, punchy track with a swagger about it which makes for great listening. The bassline is particularly great and Raphael puts in a great vocal performance in this track. The backing vocals add atmosphere and it's just a superb track. Despite being a great track, it never made a dent in the charts when released as a single.
Another upbeat and uplifting track which sounds brilliant. Again the backing vocals are prominent and they work extremely well. This is a good track to dance along to with the bouncy bass and drum too. A very well produced track, Raphael is again on top form in this track.
This track features the Rebirth Brass Band and they are heard throughout. It really works too, it sounds fantastic with lots of horns and strings complimenting each other to make a track which mixes jazz, soul, pop and other genres too. The track doesn't leave the same pitch throughout but it isn't boring by any means.
Just One Kiss
This track features Joss Stone who puts in a great performance. The music is excellently arranged, lots of strings and a great bassline making a dreamy and atmospheric track. The sort of track that is good to listen to lying down on a hill looking into a summers sky. I felt Joss and Raphael's vocals suited really well and this track is yet another high point.
Love That Girl
This is very motown sounding track with a fantastic drum beat. The vocals are ina reflective mood. Also present is some nice string work. However it's not one of his most interesting tracks and one of the albums few low points.
A different sounding track to the rest of the album. It's a track with emotion and feeling, a very soul sounding track. Slow paced which fits the track well, Raphael puts in a good vocal performance. Not the best track on the album but well worth a listen to.
Staying In Love
A bit samey this track, there isn't really anything that sets it apart from the rest of the album. The tempo has been picked up but it is lacking in melody both from the music and the vocals. I didn't know what to do with this track, I didn't want to dance and it didn't provoke much thought, it's just a pretty average track.
Another different style this track and it's a fabulous effort. The intro is very atmospheric with lots of strings and a prominent drum line which carries on throughout the track. A great vocal performance from Raphael, I really like this track. The backing vocals also add to the feel of an atmospheric and reflective track.
Let's Take A Walk
At two and a half minutes, this is a punchy track which has a confidence and energy which brushes off on me, the listener. Raphael sings with a swagger and it's another good track.
Never Give You Up
This track features Stevie Wonder and CJ and their contributions are clear to see. The track has very much a soul and R&B feel to it. It's a good sounding track with lots of strings and a decent melody.
At four minutes long this is one of the longest songs on the album and it's inkeeping with the sound of the track. It's not very catchy, it's not very poppy but it's a good sounding track where the vocals and the music really compliment each other very well indeed. Good track.
This is a remix of the earlier track featuring Jay-Z. This is definitely the low point on the album, I just don't think Jay-Z fits in with this album at all. The music sounds good, delicate and emotional whereas Jay-Z comes in with his rapper style vocals that just don't fit the track at all. A needless track to include on the album and it's definitely the biggest low point on the album. I feel the track 'Sometimes' would've been a good way of finishing but alas it wasn't to be.
This album is a fantastic effort from Raphael, plucking sounds from the 60s from a variety of styles and putting them in a modern setting. It's a great album which mixes many different genres to make a wonderful cocktail of sounds, put together to make an album that would not feel out of place in the 60s. The most prominent style I'd argue is motown, which is certainly a good thing as it's not as easy style to pull off but Raphael does it with great style, swagger, confidence, emotion and energy.
"The Way I See It" came out in 2008 and was the fourth solo album from Raphael Saadiq (who in the late eighties and nineties was the lead singer of Tony! Toni! Toné!). Here you find the artist delivering his progressive Neo-Soul material whilst still taking heavy influence from the sounds of the first Golden Age of Soul back in the sixties seventies.
1. "Sure Hope You Mean It"
Kicking the album off, you have a song which has him taking things right back to the sixties with a swinging joint which has him getting down to something which takes on the kind of production which you would associate with the kind of thing that Motown was producing in the sixties to really take you back from this early stage.
2. "100 Yard Dash"
Moving the album on, you see that similar things run through the material as much of what you get in it concentrates him around the retro sounding material, and you see that for this one (unlike the opener) the beats seems to take in a few subtle modern twists to boost it as he sings one which could easily have been written in the late sixties.
3. "Keep Marchin'"
From the title of this one you anticipate that the concept behind this album could persist here and I felt that it was effective due to the fact that you have him working with backing which you would immediately brings up connotations of this kind of music with backing singer set out in a very specific manner to have him come through well with the music he presents here.
4. "Big Easy"
Here you have him showing a degree of variation through this material as after getting into the Philadelphia and Detroit style, this one has him taking it down to New Orleans for a fresh little Swing tune to bring some life to the cut, and I felt that this one really brought something big to the album which hadn't come with the others up to this point.
5. "Just One Kiss"
One of the UK's most well-known Soul singers comes to join him here as Joss Stone performs a duet with the singer for this one and has him bring out the gentle material where he make love the main focus of the song. It wasn't all that into this one, in spite of the fact I really enjoyed Stone's participation) as it didn't really bring anything all that new, and some things which are used seem to be too modern and don't quite fit in with the flow of the release.
6. "Love That Girl"
With the sounds of the tambourine backing up a light guitar riff, you hear that for this one you are made o be taken to the place where the artist was as he composed it. His vocals remain unchanged from his years in Tony! Toni! Toné!, and this acts as a bonus, but it didn't really keep me that interested in what he brought for this one.
Here you have quite a change to the way that things are done with the music as you get Rocio Mendoza singing with him as he goes for a very traditional Soul song which has him getting down to the Blues in a very convincing manner, and so i felt that what he did was really taken to the right place, but once again the content wasn't really appealing to my personal tastes.
8. "Staying In Love"
This is an up-tempo one on the album, and I felt that unlike the earlier one on the album, this one wasn't really as appealing as the things which came off it as for this one, there isn't a consistent theme running through it in order to show that he is really trying to make all that much out of what you get here. It stays around the same level, but is just upped in pace.
9. "Oh Girl"
This was a popular song from the album and I felt that it really stood out as in spite of the fact that it takes on the form of what the Philly acts which operated at the time doing their male harmony material, this one is based upon percussion which seems to really fit in with the kind of thing which you would be likely to get in a general Hip Hop track in current times, and so it brings out something new in the release.
10. "Let's Take A Walk"
Here you get a track which has him working off the momentum of the track prior of it by getting into one which has him really showing how far things in the R&B world have gone, and the way that they have detached themselves way from the many decades prior to this point with music which has him wanting to pick up girls in a classy manner.
11. "Never Give You Up"
Here you have him working form one of the few acts who can say they really made an impact at the time when this album has been made to sound, and is still doing things well today as Stevie Wonder is one of the guests here, and I believe that this influence on the music caused the quality of it to really increase as he probably had a large role in making it come across as something authentic.
This is one on the album which doesn't really fit in as t is one which really takes on a form which has him working to the time when it was released (rather than the way the rest of the album was meant to depict the sixties and early seventies popular musical sounds, with Rhythm & Blues of the time in particular). As the Neo-Soul style is so diverse, it still doesn't quite seem like it was written for 2008, but it is a nice one.
13. "Oh Girl" (Remix)
Bringing the album to an end, you have him remixing on an earlier track from the record, and this time doing it alongside Jay-Z, but I have to see that Hov just ruined it. He doesn't fit in with the low pace of this song and his raps have no place here whatsoever, and Saadiq can't really save it from the point where he leaves.
Although I understand the significance of what the artist does here as he really does take things to a place where the music sounds to be taken directly to the around the time when he was born (if not earlier) and pulling out the best elements to do these in a manner which you couldn't tell aside something which was genuinely recorded then, I wasn't really feeling it as it wasn't my thing. However, I'm sure that others who enjoyed the music from these early Motown would enjoy this album.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Sure Hope You Mean It
2 100 Yard Dash
3 Keep Marchin'
4 Big Easy
5 Just One Kiss
6 Love That Girl
8 Staying In Love
9 Oh Girl
10 Let's Take A Walk
11 Never Give You Up
13 Oh Girl
14 Big Easy (Euro version)- Bonus track
15 Come On Home - Bonus track