Album Review

Raphael Saadiq, 'Stone Rollin'

May 9, 2011

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Saadiq, the former leader of Tony! Toni! Toné! and keeper of old-school R&B flame, delivers a deliciously good set of playful yet engaging songs that nods to the past while sounding thoroughly of the moment. It shows off Saadiq’s elastic vocals and versatility. Very few artists can convincingly rock, swing, dip into the blues, and take you to church in under 40 minutes as Saadiq does here. It opens with the aptly titled “Heart Attack,’’ a funk-rock strut that is going to rattle house-party floors. The best cut, “Radio,’’ is a rollicking take on that woman who turns your life inside out. The writer-producer-musician embellishes the tracks with horns, backing vocals, keyboards, and whatever else will serve the songs without drowning them. The songs are tight but never tidy — this disc breathes. While Saadiq’s chicken scratch guitar work drives the funk, Robert Randolph offers stellar slide guitar on “Day Dreams.’’ Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano delivers the curveball on “Good Man’’ with a clipped rap, and it counterpoints Saadiq’s vocals as well as an evocative orchestration for soulful-hip-hop blues of the highest order. (Out tomorrow) KEN CAPOBIANCO