A Thrilling Album
Perhaps the best example of this is the second track, "100 Yard Dash," a two-minute, 18-second ditty about a man who's completely twisted over a honey-sweet woman. If you didn't already know the song was brand-new, you'd swear it was about 50 years old. Saadiq is that good at emulating the sound of that era that each song sounds like an authentic piece of music from the past, instead of just like someone who's trying to imitate. It's obvious that a lot of love, thought and planning went into the construction and production of the songs. Instead of using computers and synthesizers, Saadiq went all-out and got actual musicians - horn players, guitarists, pianists, etc. - in addition to himself, to play in the studio. Their presence gives the songs more life and vibrancy than they otherwise would have. And Saadiq himself is on-point vocally and sounds renewed by this project. Some of his previous post-Tony! Toni! Toné! work was pleasant but ultimately forgettable. This, however, is a thrilling neo-classic album.
A Loving Tribute
Although there are no bad songs on the album, there are two that for various reasons don't work as well as the other 11 tracks. One is "Calling," which combines Spanish vocals and Latin guitar with a 1950s doo-wop sound. The result isn't awful, but isn't exactly brilliant, either. The other semi-misfire is a remix of "Oh Girl" that features Jay-Z. The usually on-point rapper completely ruins the song by proving a half-rapped, semi-sung intro that totally massacres the beat, and not in a good way.
So overall, this album is a lovingly crafted, excellently executed tribute to the men and women who paved the way for contemporary Soul and R&B. Anyone who's a fan of such classic artists as Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway, should likely enjoy and appreciate this loving tribute to the era when they were at their creative and commercial peaks.