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With his idiosyncratic style and spare Tele-driven setup, the inventive guitarist twists roots music on his new groove-centric album, Get It!

Rick Holmstrom says he spends “a lot of time not listening to guitar. I like trying to imagine the guitar taking the place of saxophone, Ahmad Jamal’s piano, or Mose Allison’s piano. Like Billie Holiday, who does those weird little micro bends that the great singers do—how can you get a feeling like that on the guitar?”

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Raphael Saadiq Stone Rollin’ Columbia Since his days as bassist/vocalist in the soul/R&B group Tony! Toni! Toné! in the late ’80s and ’90s, Raphael Saadiq has quietly worked as a

Raphael Saadiq
Stone Rollin’

Since his days as bassist/vocalist in the soul/R&B group Tony! Toni! Toné! in the late ’80s and ’90s, Raphael Saadiq has quietly worked as a producer and sideman for Joss Stone, the Roots, D’Angelo, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, and others, while also managing to release three solid solo albums. The most recent, The Way I See It, gave him three Grammy nominations and was selected as iTunes’ Album of the Year in 2008. With Stone Rollin’, Saadiq proves ready to be the marquee torchbearer for modern R&B and soul.

Like his previous efforts, Stone Rollin’ has a heavy dose of Saadiq’s influences spread throughout. “Go To Hell” is a slamming song carried by a James Jamerson-like bass line ushering the song up to its cruising altitude. The vocal interplay displayed here between Saadiq and a female choir pays homage to Al Green and his work with Donna and Sandra Rhodes in “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.” With “Radio,” Saadiq goes into early Euro-invasion territory—think Beatles’ “Twist and Shout”—with a hypnotic guitar rundown groove. Other standouts include the Dixieland boogie-woogie “Day Dreams,” a track that’s driven by guest steel guitarist Robert Randolph’s vocal-like runs and Saadiq’s bouncing piano parts, while “Good Man” is a slow-and-steady song that reverberates attitude thanks to the authoritative walking bass, as Saadiq emotionally pushes his raspy vocals over the song’s aorta. And the reprisal of “The Answer” showcases some wah-riffing that Wah Wah Watson and Skip Pitts would get down with.

Overall, Stone Rollin’ is a stone cold album that lets loose the undeniable talents that Raphael Saadiq possesses as a musician—playing bass, guitar, Mellotron, keys, and drums on most tracks—and as a slick producer bringing the raw power, groovin’ energy, and Twist-approved vibes of 1962 into the 21st century.

Gregg Allman''s son carves a path all his own

Devon Allman’s Honeytribe
Space Age Blues
Provogue Records

By blending ’70s soul, Memphis R&B, and slinky minor-key grooves, Devon Allman has found a way to extend his family’s amazing musical lineage on his own terms. His gravelly voice may be reminiscent of his father, Gregg Allman, but the similarity ends there. (Musically, that is—the physical resemblance is unmistakable.) This Allman plays guitar with a high-gain edge and slashing tone that suggests Gary Moore rather than uncle Duane. With his wailing harp, Huey Lewis lends a bluesy touch to the album’s opening track, but despite the title, Space Age Blues is more about vintage funk and psychedelic rock than blues. Elements of Free (especially Paul Kossoff’s fast, intense vibrato), Mountain, mid-’70s Stevie Wonder (Allman covers “Sir Duke”), and even Quicksilver Messenger Service swirl and coalesce in Allman’s music, yet he delivers these retro influences with a 21st-century flair. To paraphrase Billie Holiday, this child has got his own.