His lyrics lean toward time-tested love cliches: "You should be here, babe/Girl, you know you drive me crazy," he sings, but the real message is to be found in the gentle funk of tracks such as "Still Ray," with its tinkling, waterfall piano trills and trombone accents, and "OPH," a casual celebration of kind herb.
"Instant Vintage" is so unassuming that it practically dissolves upon impact.
Saadiq plays the El Rey Theatre in L.A. on June 17.
*** Dirty Vegas, "Dirty Vegas," Capitol. Dirty Vegas is the band featured in that ubiquitous Mitsubishi TV commercial, and while it would be easy to begrudge the English trio its success, it would also be unfair, as the band's debut album is much more than "Days Go By." There are a number of surprises here, notably the '80s-flavored techno beats on the sonically joyful "Ghosts." Inspired as much by Pink Floyd and the late-'80s Manchester scene (Happy Mondays) as the dance world, "Dirty Vegas" is a promising debut.
*** Sierra Maestra, "Rumbero Soy," Riverboat/World Music Network. Before there was Buena Vista Social Club, there was Sierra Maestra, the seminal group that gave us Jesus Alemany of Cubanismo and Juan de Marcos Gonzalez of Afro-Cuban All Stars. After 25 years and 14 albums, the Havana ensemble remains true to its rootsy formula--tight, traditional percussion, pure and piercing trumpet and four-part vocal harmonies. This strong new effort (recorded in France and somewhat marred by muddled sound) features guest vocals by Buena Vista alumni Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo, and unobtrusive rock embellishments by New York guitarist Marc Ribot and British producer Chris Birkett. A.G.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.