RAPHAEL SAADIQ Instant Vintage (Universal) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
After flirting with career suicide on the bloated and tuneless vanity project Lucy Pearl, Raphael Saadiq gets straight back to business with his solo debut. On Instant Vintage, the former Tony! Toni! Toné! frontman comes up with a sunnier, West Coast version of D'Angelo's Voodoo album, mixing 70s soul with hiphop aesthetics and a driving thump. Admittedly, Saadiq doesn't have anything to say thats particularly different from the rest of the bump 'n' grind set, but it's how he puts his tunes together that's most impressive. Dense and bottom-heavy, Instant Vintage switches grooves from song to song, from string-drenched ballads and gospel-inspired roots tunes to stretched-out psychedelic soul workouts and perhaps the only use of a tuba on a contemporary R&B record. Ancient to the future.