Raphael Saadiq's flights of musical fancy are so fluid and light of touch that fans didn't necessarily know what to expect from last year's The Way I See It, his first entry in the retro-soul sweepstakes—Saadiq applied to an Amy Winehouse canvas? What they got was a fully and lovingly re-imagined take on the Holland-Dozier-Holland-era Motown sound, with punching drums, cleaner guitar, and enough maneuvering room for '70s Marvin Gaye funk, Spanish doo-wop, and even some dirty talk (the irresistible "Let's Take a Walk"). Only the bouncy Katrina eulogy "Big Easy" feels like a form/content mismatch: Everything else is his best since the peaks of Tony! Toni! Toné! and Lucy Pearl, with a place in heaven for the Stevie Wonder harmonica solo. Live, he brings a band, and not just the one-man version he uses in the studio. 18+.
Fri., March 13, 8 p.m., 2009