R&B veteran Raphael Saadiq turns it up a notch on his fourth LP, attacking his latest collection of soul-pop songs with the electrifying fervour and meticulous musicianship typical of his stage show. Two decades into his career, the former Tony! Toni! Toné! frontman is beyond revivalist. He embodies a classic soul spirit, delivering rockabilly rhythms and blistering guitar work along with sweeping strings and gospel harmonies.
It's difficult not to fall head over heels for Saadiq's hard-working showman ethic, especially when he threatens to take the party past the three-minute pop format (which he rarely does, unfortunately). His presence is effortlessly smooth and his production impeccable, particularly on the misty-eyed Go To Hell, the shuffling lover-man groove of Stone Rollin' and the embittered ballad Good Man. When he aims for pop, however, the effect is sometimes pastiche, as on Radio, which resembles Barrett Strong's played-out Money (That's What I Want).
Top track: Go To Hell