Raphael Saadiq | Park West | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Raphael Saadiq 

When: Fri., June 3, 8 p.m. 2011
Price: $30
You could hear Raphael Saadiq's fluency in old-school soul during his 90s stints with Tony! Toni! Toné! and Lucy Pearl, even though those groups made thoroughly contemporary R&B, but two albums ago, on 2008's The Way I See It, he went straight-up retro. On his fourth solo record, the new Stone Rollin' (Columbia), his sound is more scuffed-up and insistent, though he still meticulously controls every sonic detail—he's all over Rollin', and as usual plays most of the instruments. (He seems to be mildly obsessed with Mellotron.) Saadiq is a terrific singer when he doesn't need to push too hard, but his voice isn't up to the task he's set himself. He's clearly been inspired by some lofty greats on the new songs: the heavy Sly Stone thump of "Heart Attack," the quasi-gospel Ray Charles shouting on "Day Dreams" (which includes excellent steel guitar by Robert Randolph), the rolling Marvin Gaye stroll of "Movin' Down the Line." The results are hardly embarrassing, but they can't approach the work of the iconic artists Saadiq takes after—for them, brilliant singing came first. 18+ —Peter Margasak

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