Fantasy Warehouse Clearance Sale (series)
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sku: STX 31288
- Released: November 23, 2009
- Originally Released: 2009
- Label: Stax
Clash (magazine) - "The album sees Stone lay down some of her most honest tunes to date. Tracks like 'Kiss Me All Over' and 'Think Sometimes,' are beautifully written ballads..."
- 2.I Ain't Hearin' U
- 5.Hey Mr. DJ
- 6.Kiss All Over Your Body
- 7.I Don't Care
- 8.Why Is It
- 9.Tell Me
- 10.Think Sometimes
- 11.I Found a Keeper
- 12.Unexpected (Reprise)
Audio Mixer: Alvin Speights.
Liner Note Author: Angie Stone.
Photographer: Kevin Goolsby.
On her second album for Concord's Stax imprint (and fifth overall), Angie Stone delves deeper into funk and hip-hop than on her previous outings. Her last offering, The Art of Love & War, was a critical and commercial triumph for the vastly underrated vocalist, and topped the Billboard chart. With a slew of producers including Sly Williams, Willie "Chuck" Shivers, Karrim King and Fitzroy Reid, Steven "Supe" White, Jonathan Richmond, Jazze Pha, and Stone herself, these dozen tracks continue to reveal her versatility as a vocalist and recording artist; she can sing whatever it is she wants to with equal verve, authenticity, and flair. Despite the slicker and more diverse sounds on Unexpected, the soul quotient is high, even if this isn't strictly a neo-soul album. The new beat consciousness reveals itself most on the title track, which is hard funk at its 2009 best. Cuts such as "Free" might have come right out of the 1990s with their use of careening synths, shimmering hip-hop beats, and colliding loops. But the melody is solid, its chorus and refrain catchy. "I Found a Keeper" is another; its production, arrangement, and structure actually feel like it was recorded in the 1990s -- and is at least reminiscent in spirit to material by the trio MoKenStef. But these are not complaints. Stone's voice is so strident and drenched in soul that even the harpsichord sound on the latter track can't overpower it. The one complaint is the utterly unnecessary use of Auto-Tune on a beautiful song like "Tell Me" -- the synths and dancefloor beats are one thing, but the inclusion of this device just feels plain alien on this track. For fans worried that Stone abandoned her old-school sound completely, they needn't worry. The first single, "I Ain't Hearin' You," is drenched in neo-soul grooves, as are "Think Sometimes," "I Don't Care," and the gorgeous ballads "All Over Your Body" and "Why Is It." If one goes back to Angie Stone's debut album, Black Diamond, and follows the progression of her sound, it will be obvious that there has been a continued and restless path of growth and experimentation. Unexpected simply feels like a leap more than a step. ~ Thom Jurek
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