John Legend, Raphael Saadiq | Chicago Theatre | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

John Legend, Raphael Saadiq All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended

When: Thu., Nov. 20 and Fri., Nov. 21, 7:30 p.m. 2008

Whether singing in Tony! Toni! Toné! or working as a producer for the likes of D’Angelo and Joss Stone, Raphael Saadiq has always worn his love for classic soul on his sleeve, and on his new The Way I See It (Columbia) he doesn’t even make his customary attempts to modernize the Motown sound—there are no looped breaks and almost no rapping (just one weak Jay-Z cameo on a remix), and he plays nearly all the instrumental tracks himself rather than relying on sampling. He also sings in a smooth, light high tenor that has a little of the sound and a lot of the spirit of Smokey Robinson (and to a lesser extent the Temptations and Marvin Gaye). I admire Saadiq’s decision to avoid the most predictable elements of contemporary takes on old-school soul, but ultimately the results feel calculated and mannered—and though the tunes are catchy, while the album’s playing I end up spending most of my time trying to remember which Motown hit each one reminds me of. John Legend headlines. —Peter Margasak

Price: $46-$71

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