Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Raphael Saadiq: Stone Rollin' [Columbia, 2011]
One problem with dropping a tour de force out of the blue is that it sends expectations skyrocketing. So as we should have figured, the hook density is down three years after The Way I See It as the former Ray Wiggins declines to provide another dozen perfect Holland-Dozier-Holland songs. In fact, the born bassist now seems obsessed with groove rather than song. More Prince than Ray Parker Jr., he plays with himself to beat the band, and makes these 10 tracks bump and pulse. And then you notice even the less pneumatic ones connecting as songs. Fearing hell or working two jobs or fixing to buy what he can't afford, Saadiq sounds something like natural. Only when you do the math--three tracks a year, hmm--do you remember that natural's not in it. A-