I remember when I was little; I would be in the car with my parents and would listen to KHITS 96 FM, listening to a great era of music, including The Beatles, Boston, Queen, and James Brown. I remember bobbing my head to his hits, like “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and “Get Up Offa That Thang.” I even have an old school playlist on my Pandora account which plays all of the old style of music.
One of the best things about the older style of music is the fact that they can actually sing and play instruments. Nowadays, it seems like anyone can talk in a booth, and through the magic of editing, can come out sounding like a robot. And instruments just seem like a thing from the past; gathering dust while samples of other songs get filled in the empty spaces.
All of that said, soul singer/producer’s Raphael Saadiq new offering, Stone Rollin’, sound like a breath of fresh air that blows away modern day pop music in one puff.
For those who do not know who Raphael is, he is a producer for songs by John Legend and Mary J. Blige, and is an advocate for the old-school type of music. Starting his career with Tony! Toni! Toné!, he broke off of that and started a great solo career, racking up fourteen nominations, including twelve Grammy nominations with one win.
Stone Rollin’ sounds like something that could fit into a modern day jukebox. “Radio,” sounds like something that Chuck Berry would approve of. “Go to Hell” is a soulful call for someone to come and help Raphael get through some troubles of life, which concludes with asking for us to let love bring us together. “Good Man” is a James Brown style story, perceiving a hard working man that doesn’t need his wife anymore. My favorite track, “Movin’ Down the Line” is a masterfully played blues song about love, while the title track “Stone Rollin’” is a stone cold ode to one beautiful woman.
Alas, there are a couple of weak points to this album that I have to point out. Saadiq really enjoys using the theme of love and lust in his songs, but more about losing than finding it. The song “Over You” is a rock and roll inspired rip of wanting to have your girlfriend back. “Just Don’t,” featuring Little Dragon’s singer Yukimi Nakano, is another rock song, only describing hang-ups. I’m not saying that these songs are bad, but just repetitive.
Stone Rollin’ is a great offering from Saadiq, bringing back an amazing style of music, with actual instruments like harmonicas and flutes. Sometimes I wish that newer artists would have a throwback album in the style of Saadiq’s’; playing for the radio instead of for the clubs. It might have some missteps, but Rollin’ is a great walk down memory lane, in which I will happy to walk down again.
Final Grade: B
Go Download: “Movin’ Down the Line,” “Stone Rollin”