Ever since Raphael Saadiq achieved musical notoriety as a member of Tony! Toni! TonÉ! (and later Lucy Pearl), fans have been wondering when he would take his act solo.

Ever since Raphael Saadiq achieved musical notoriety as a member of Tony! Toni! Toné! (and later Lucy Pearl), fans have been wondering when he would take his act solo. Well, the wondering can stop. The singer/songwriter/musician/producer (D'Angelo, Angie Stone) steps out on his own with this ambitious project. Much as Stevie Wonder did in 1971 with his boundary-pushing Where I'm Coming From, Saadiq shows exactly where he's coming from with a savory mix of R&B, soul, hip-hop, funk, rock, jazz, and doo-wop that he calls "gospeldelic." He emotes about everything, from personal experience ("Doing What I Can," "Uptown") to inspirational messages (the 14-minute "Skyy, Can You Feel Me") to just plain groovin' ("Excuse Me"), utilizing everything from strings to a tuba. It's that imaginative vibe that's still at the heart of Saadiq's music and which drives this pleasing, good-feeling solo debut.—GM