Raphael Saadiq reimagines gospel music on ‘Jimmy Lee’

    The veteran R&B singer-producer’s first album since 2011.

    Raphael Saadiq press image
    Image: Fire Shore Media / Aaron Rapoport

    The influential singer-producer Raphael Saadiq is back on the microphone on Jimmy Lee, his first new record in eight years.

    The album, named after his late brother Jimmy Lee Baker who passed in the ’90s, is an uplifting concept record that sees Saadiq venture into some pretty personal territory— something he’d previously been reluctant to do throughout his prolific 30-year career.

    On the record, Saadiq blends gospel elements with modern R&B production in a refreshing manner. On the lavish opener “Sinners Prayer,” church bells and funky bass lines converge as he belts: “God, help me make it / God, can we make it? God, when the sinner is praying.”

    A gargantuan bassline and a shimmering flute open “King’s Fall,” as Saadiq calls out to a higher being: “The supplier, my provider and all those things (I want you to be my) / My provider and supplier, and all those things, and all those things (I want you to be my).”

    Saadiq’s last album, Stone Rollin’, dropped in 2011. Since then he’s co-produced Solange’s A Seat at the Table and John Legend’s A Legendary Christmas.

    Listen to Jimmy Lee below: