Album Review: Stone Rollin' By Raphael Saadiq

422 votes

5/5 STARS!

If you were locked in a vault since the late 70's and found your way out on March 25, 2011, with this disc spinning, you would feel as if nothing had changed. It encompasses both funk and the production is completed with an updated 60's groove. Saadiq has been nominated so often it can be said they just put his name on every ballet thinking that eventually he will get his day at the podium. Stone Rollin ' is the most well-rounded release of 2011 with refreshing R&B/soul that cruises along as if the 80's, 90's even the first decade of 00's never happened.

The guitar on the opening riff of "Heart Attack" makes the listener think that James Brown is in the house. He could possibly have been throwing vibes at Raphael during the writing of this music. He did not leave one ounce of pop music untested from start to finish. Sometimes you want to dance, others you want to rock your head to the beat and let your body get sucked into the void. During "Over You", he seems to be channeling Jimi Hendrix, as his guitar cannot help but draw you in. With the slight distortion to his vocals, it's bonafide.

By the time the listener gets to "Stone Rollin'" they are hooked, but Saadiq does not stop taking you on a musical journey with lyrics and sound that are unmistakably his signature style. He peppers this disc with influences from The Temptations, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Sly & The Family Stone, The Isley Brothers and the backing sounds of Gladys Knight & The Pips. His time spent producing other artists has given him ample opportunity to tweak his own style while giving an edge to their writing.

Saadiq even takes a country guitar riff in "Day Dreams" and puts a funk spin on the layers underneath that bring back some of the Elvis Presley style from the late 60's to early 70's. No other artist would attempt a risky track like this one. His vocals are so smooth that as the song plays out, you can almost get so lost you will no longer know who the artist is. Any listener will know that one trip around this disc is unacceptable.

Track 7, "Movin' Down The Line" is true dedication to Smokey Robinson & The Miracles with the subtle guitar and the shakin' sound as the bass just puts the tempo into perspective. Saadiq has the ability to bring all his influences into each track without letting it overpower his own unique style. Just when you can't take anymore, he drives you through three more tracks that are the icing on the cake with strong drum lines and the symbol sound that most producers often let become buried in the mixes today. Saadiq brings them to the surface and lets them add to the real musical experience.