Ricky FantÉ overcomes the exaggerated comparisons to such great male soul singers as Otis Redding and Sam Cooke.

Ricky Fanté overcomes the exaggerated comparisons to such great male soul singers as Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. On "Rewind," Fanté and writing partner Jesse Harris (Norah Jones) manage the delicate task of remaining true to soul tradition without wallowing in cliché. Sure, echoes of Cooke ("Drive"), Redding ("Let You Go") and Solomon Burke ("If It's Love") can be heard. But so, too, can sprinkles of Van Morrison and the Young Rascals. Fanté has his own thing going: He doesn't take the short cut to airplay by covering any soul classics; instead, he confidently creates his own road for a new time and place. His talent cuts across musical categories: Even CMT has a Fanté link on its Web site, suggesting that while '60s-style Southern soul may sound like a narrow niche in 2004, Fanté could make it mass appeal.—WR