Urban review: Raphael Saadiq, The Way I See It

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You can scarcely bang a tambourine without hitting a Motown celebration right now. But when younger generations of African-American artists speak of Motown, it's generally the deeper soul of 70s Marvin and Stevie, or the fizz-pop of Jackson 5, rarely the driving rhythms that defined not just a label, but Motown the genre.

So for Raphael Saadiq, a leading light of neo-soul, to wind the clock back another decade is, if not original, at least brand new retro. That's the schtick, but The Way I See It does more than ring nostalgic bells. There are reminders of individual past glories, including Never Give You Up, which nods to Ain't No Mountain High Enough, but Saadiq has decided the house that Berry built isn't in need of an overhaul, just an extension.

The only thing new about The Way I See It is the songs, delivered in a tenor one notch lower than Smokey's. He also has a fine way with a simple lyric: witness Big Easy, which masquerades as a love song but is his reaction to Katrina, complete with a chorus demanding to know "what's going on", evoking Marvin Gaye's 1971 masterpiece, lyrically at least. Perhaps those earliest Detroit grooves are truly inimitable after all. But if you want to hear someone give the task one hell of a shot, The Way I See It affords the finest view.

Contributor

Steve Yates

The GuardianTramp

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