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Angie Stone

Mahogany Soul

  • J Records

Of all the musical trends coming and going during the past couple of years, one of the most refreshing has been the neo-soul movement.

Macy Gray, Jill Scott, and D'Angelo are just a few of those at the forefront of the movement, but one of the very best neo-soul albums of 2001 is this sensational sophomore effort from Angie Stone.

The ambitious follow-up to 1999's Black Diamond includes 17 songs, clocks in at more than 71 minutes and unlike a lot of packed-to-the-max- discs, this one is strong from start to finish. Stone gets her inspiration from classic soul singers like Donnie Hathaway, Aretha Franklin, and Curtis Mayfield, and the latter's 1970 hit “The Makings of You” is one of the highlights of this set.

But she's a first rate lyricist on her own—just check out the powerful tribute to black men, “Brotha,” that serves as the album's lead single. And when the South Carolina native lets her sumptuous voice melt into vintage soul flavors like “Snowflakes” and “Life Goes On,” the effect is positively hypnotic. Those looking for Stone's sassier side need dig no further than the bonus track “Time of the Month,” which makes it very clear when not to mess with this lady. Cool, classy, and strong as the day is long, Angie Stone's captured the past while making the present a whole lot better place to be.

Kevin O'Hare