On his past two critically lauded albums, Saadiq immersed himself in ’60s-era rhythm and blues. Many of his peers have sought the same well of inspiration, including Cee Lo Green and R. Kelly. While it has increased Saadiq’s fan base, the verdict among those who’ve been fans since his Tony! Toni! Tone! days is that they’ll wait out this retro-kitsch period until he decides what to do next. This reviewer felt the same way until hearing his band perfectly translate those classically styled songs live.
After a quick romp through his “Instant Vintage” and Lucy Pearl periods, which turned the sock hop into a house party, it was time for the quiet storm — a block of Tony! Toni! Tone!’s most beloved slow jams, which had couples swaying and hugging as though no one else was in the room. As the band marinated on the chords of “Anniversary,” Saadiq summoned a “special guest,” a fan who had arranged with the singer in advance to propose to his lady onstage. That fellow is winning at life.