Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Raphael Saadiq - The Way I See It


Fun story waveriders.  I have two very good friends who buy me music for Christmas.  They know that I have a more extensive music collection than most people, so they shop for me without a set gameplan.  When asked about their selection methods I have received answers such as "we thought this cover looked cool", "this band has a great name", "we needed something cheap and found this one", and my personal favorite "eh, you're going to return it anyway".  What's crazy is that their random selection process has provided me with some fantastic albums!  The album I want to talk about today however isn't actually one of them.  No, Raphael Saadiq's The Way I See It is an album that I procured by exchanging one of my friends' rare misses.

Who here grew up listening to and loving the great Motown hits of the 1960s and 1970s?  I know I did.  The Way I See It is an album firmly rooted in "The Motown Sound", and it's fantastic!  Seriously waveriders, this is one of those albums that felt like a slap in the face when I first listened to it.  Not a slap meant to hurt mind you.  No, this was a slap designed to grab my attention.  It demanded to know why I was unaware of this music's existence.  The fact is that I listened to this album and felt immediately compelled to procure every other release from Mr. Saadiq.  These songs are that potent!  But wait, some of you may not be familiar with "The Motown Sound".  What does that mean?

"The Motown Sound", if I might paraphrase the wikipedia page, refers to a style of soul music that was intentionally crafted for pop appeal.  The songs on The Way I See It possess all of the key musical attributes required to fit the Motown template.  Melodic bass lines that drive the songs?  Check.  Liberal use of the tambourine to accent the beat?  Affirmative.  Orchestral string sections enriching the music?  Absolutely.  Call and response vocals?  You better believe it! 

Speaking of vocals, Raphael Saadiq's voice is phenomenal!  His singing is buttery smooth, incredibly soulful, and dripping with passion.  Not only that, but he has great versatility in terms of the emotions he conveys.  For instance, there is a playfulness to his performances on songs like "100 Yard Dash", "Let's Take A Walk", and "Staying In Love" that puts a smile on my face.  On the flip side his heartfelt introspection on songs like "Big Easy", "Oh Girl", and album closer "Sometimes" is weighty and powerful.

Waveriders take notice!  If you're on the hunt for some newer music that takes the spirit of Motown and runs with it then look no further than Raphael Saadiq's The Way I See It.  This album puts a fresh face on an old sound, reinvigorating it for modern times and modern audiences.  I love it, and I'm betting you will too!  Click on the links and enjoy!

--Penfold




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