Angie Stone : Mahogany Soul
Well-made, but very boring nu-soul stuff...
While nu-soul princesses like Kelis and Alicia holler and strut and lash-flutter their way to hip acclaim, big-haired love goddess Angie has taken a far less flashy or faddy route towards the glittering throne of Soul Mother Number One. Where others are all bling and booty, this home-fried, silk-wrapped, honey-voiced, good-loving, back-in-the-day, Deep South smooch-siren simply smoulders and emotes in a classy, timeless manner.
And Christ, how boring is that? How many more dipped-in-chocolate hymns to the hackneyed Earth Mother images of soul food, ghetto solidarity, family bonding and cod-spiritual jazz-funk does the planet need? It’s like having an entire series of Babyfatherpoured into your ears. Sure, soul draws from a deep well of tradition, but at least the Lauryn Hills of this world acknowledge that ‘black’ music has advanced a little since 1974. Two or three breezy George Benson guitar licks and Gladys Knight lip-tremblers per album are forgiveable, but 17 of the bleeders? Stone is stranded in prematurely middle-aged MOR.
Yes, she has a magnificently voluptuous voice, the colour of wood smoke and the consistency of treacle. And yes, the impeccable production on this, her second album, shimmers like a balmy tropical night. But all the Curtis Mayfield covers and Al Green riffs in the world can not redeem lazy therapy-speak bollocks like ‘Mad Issues’, soapy no-good-man dramas like ‘Pissed Off’, or humour-free PMT anthems called ‘Time Of The Month’. No kidding.
Stone is Oprah Winfrey in musical form and this is Waiting To Exhale, The Album.