Raphael Saadiq: Stone Rollin'

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stonerollin Last month at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Raphael Saadiq led his band in a spirited performance of songs from his new album Stone Rollin’ . It was an impressive session, especially for the early morning hour broadcasting live on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic back in Los Angeles. In between sets, I spoke with Saadiq about the particulars of writing and recording the new album, performing with Mick Jagger at the recent Grammys, and the quality of musicians he surrounds himself with on the road.


Saadiq exudes an aura of confidence, certainly as a musician and band leader but also in his personal style and demeanor. I would like to think it's from all the experience he garnered over the years supporting and collaborating with some of the brightest minds in contemporary R&B, but I really think he's just got it. You know, born with it. He did enjoy an early glimpse of the "big time" on the road with Prince as a teen, and his forays into pop with Tony! Toni! Tone' and Lucy Pearl have surely helped shape his character.  But his new album Stone Rollin' reveals a matured Raphael Saadiq front and center.  It's his most articulate album to date and a solid follow up to his Grammy-winning 2008 album, The Way I See It. His music has come of age with a seasoned appreciation of the past, balanced with a mainstream appeal and forward-thinking frame of mind, making him a fixture on our playlists at KCRW.


Stone Rollin’ does what you hope for but don't always get in an album, taking you through a full circle of moods and grooves. The languid swagger of "Good Man" will seduce you with its dreamy orchestration while the uptempo anthem "Radio" grabs you by the lapels and drags you to the dance floor. Two very different musical directions, both executed beautifully. Seeing Saadiq perform these songs live with different arrangements in recent months, once with a full band and then in a stripped down set, showed me how durable this album really is. These songs have been tested at their core, in fact much of Stone Rollin' was honed on tour first, to make sure the vitality of the songs weren't diminished in the recording process.


As that SXSW session concluded, while contemplating the mystery of Raphael Saadiq's effortless cool, I realized what may be the secret to his "instant vintage" credo -- a sincere joy in making music and performing live, and Stone Rollin’ is truly a testament to that for us all to enjoy.


-- Jason Bentley, KCRW Music Director and host of Morning Becomes Eclectic


Raphael Saadiq Watch Raphael Saadiq live on Morning Becomes Eclectic, March 18, 2011, here.


Stone Rollin’ will be available to stream on demand beginning May 2 through May 31, 2011. The album will be released on Tuesday, May 10, 2011.


Artist website: http://www.raphaelsaadiq.com



Track listing
1. Heart Attack
2. Go To Hell
3. Radio]
4. Over You
5. Stone Rollin
6. Day Dreams
7. Moving Down The Line
8. Just Don t
9. Good Man
10. The Answer