Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  Expert Witness
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Rolling Stone
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
Web Site:
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
CG Search:
Google Search:

The Way I See It

Preeminent R&B artist of the '90s slays his competition by laying on the subtlety.

Soul revivalists play up the emotive--gospel-loving workouts that mesh comfortably with the melismatic overkill of pop singing in the karaoke age. Raphael Saadiq has something else in mind--a filler-less Motown album. Only on the doowop-con-Espaņol "Callin" and the sweetly woozy "Oh Girl" does he stray from the bright, swift, clearly hooked aesthetic of Holland-Dozier-Holland producing the Temptations circa 1965. And with the aesthetic comes the attitude. Saadiq is a romantic who stays true to the deliberate simplicity of such titles as "Sure Hope You Mean It" and "Just One Kiss." But his adaptable baritone is always crisp and cocky--he never threatens to assume the fetal position if he doesn't get the extreme cuddling he craves. And just to show he's a modern guy, he'll proposition you straight up once he lures you into taking that walk outside.

Blender, Oct. 2008