Raphael Saadiq, Live In Concert: SXSW 2011
For all its irresistibly soulful energy, what really jumps out about Raphael Saadiq's music is the smooth precision with which it falls into place. A perfectly tailored showman, the producer and former member of Tony! Toni! Toné! plays the part of the in-control frontman to perfection. But don't mistake his impeccably presented persona with sterility: This set from Stubb's in Austin, Texas — recorded live as part of the South by Southwest music festival — is a full-blown soul revue, complete with choreographed backup singers and buckets of sweat. When a guy this cool exerts this much effort, it's a joy to behold.
Saadiq is set to release his fourth studio album in May; titled Stone Rollin', it's a fine set of polished throwback soul. But new songs like "Heart Attack" and the set-closing title cut already spring vividly to life in concert, making this an essential early companion piece for the studio tracks to come. It's a big, bright ball of energy, and it serves Saadiq's songs well.
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