Allen Stone | Radius (Capitol)

cd allen stoneNo disrespect to the legend, but Stone’s songs could stand alongside some of Stevie Wonder’s best.




To all you old-school music fans who find yourselves uttering the words, “There just isn’t any good music anymore” on a regular basis, I give you Allen Stone. This is one of, if not the, most soulful white boys I have ever heard; in fact, the first time I heard him, I had to go back and check the artist photo just to be sure. Without sounding derivative or dated, Stone echoes the best of ’70s greats like Stevie Wonder, Chic, and Earth, Wind and Fire.

I don’t even have to persuade you to devote 30 or 45 minutes to checking out his music; disc opener “Perfect World” is enough to show you how real this guy is, how true and truly talented. The song will make you groove, make you vibe, make you feel energized and elated. Stone keeps the feel-good funk flowing with “Fake Future.” I mean it only in the best way when I say listening to this song evokes a concert video with in-sync dancing.

cd allen-stone-250You could probably fool a friend by telling him “Upside” is Wonder’s new single. No disrespect to the legend, but Stone’s songs could stand alongside some of the master’s best. Put on your studded white bell bottoms and matching, large-lapeled jacket for “Freezer Burn,” as Stone’s classic falsetto lures you onto the dance floor. “Symmetrical” has a more current sound, with a bit of additional guitar and vocoder-modified vocals. The song almost begs for hand-claps, but you’ll have to provide these yourself as Stone sticks to the eternal standard of drums.

“Guardian Angel” smolders from start to finish, its groove administering a slow burn for nearly five minutes. The most “contemporary” of the tracks has to be “Freedom,” which sounds like something Maroon 5 could have released. It’s radio-ready and catchy, the perfect song for summertime—and beyond.

We can’t dance all the time, and Stone acknowledges this with the slow jam of “American Privilege,” in which he acknowledges the benefits and opportunities he received that he knows many others have not. “Circle” takes things down even further, the instrumentation mixed low so as to allow Stone’s smooth vocals and gentle vibrato to leap from the speakers. “The Wire” and “Where You’re At” are also smooth sailers, with the latter reassuring us that “the best part of loving is just loving where you’re at.”

Gently strummed strings back “Barbwire,” a track on which Stone alternates to great effect between falsetto and modal. All things good must end, and the same is true for this beauty of an album. It seems fitting that Stone leave us wanting, and the yearning, apologetic “I Know that I Wasn’t Right” is the perfect way to do just that. But don’t despair: If you need a break from the “repeat” function on your player, Stone has two previous albums you can track down and enjoy. A | Laura Hamlett

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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