Allen Stone has a lot to be thankful for as he celebrates the release of his new album, Building Balance: he was recently married, had his first child, and is still finding the time to deliver some more soulful tunes for his faithful fanbase. For those unfamiliar with the artist, he is an incredibly gifted vocalist and songwriter who cut his teeth to classic soul artists such as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Gladys Knight. Stone has a lot going for him on this latest effort, as he finds a way to embrace the past artists who inspired him to sing as well as look forward in his career as he maps out his next move creatively.
Kicking off the record with the pop bliss of “Brown Eyed Lover,” Stone wastes little time showing off his soulful vocal prowess as he croons over the lyrical story of his newfound love. Allen Stone is equally vulnerable as he is vocally confident when he sings, “Oh, let me think / What if she finds a man / Who’s got so much more time / For her than me on his hands?” Stone is just as human as the rest of us, but just a hell of a lot more vocally talented.
“Sunny Days” sounds like some modern R&B with great production elements, courtesy of veteran hitmaker Jamie Lidell, and yet Stone’s voice never strays from being the main attraction on the record. On this song, Stone continues to be smitten for his new lover as he sings on the chorus, “You know life, it ain’t always sunny days / But right now, I can’t feel no rain on me / It would take so much hate, for my smile to leave / Because I know the one I love / She loves me.” It’s clear on this song and others on the LP that Stone has very little reason to be pessimistic about his outlook on life.
“Sweaters” on the other hand, is filled with great break-up metaphors as he reminisces back to a time where he may have had to deal with some painful relationships. Lyrics such as, “You can take back all your sweaters / I just want the one with the coffee stain / You can take back all those sweaters /I just need the one for a rainy day,” paint a picture of a man who has seen some relationships come and go, and still takes it all in stride.
“Miscommunicate” is a song filled with great Stevie Wonder-esque vibes and plenty of messages of unity. It would have fit great on any Stevie Wonder compilation, and yet here’s Stone with the capability of pulling it all off. The record is filled with more R&B elements than straight forward ballads, but there are some of those too, such as in the song “Lay It Down.” Its a slow builder of a song that crescendos at just the right moment. Stone is capable of belting out with the best singers out there, yet his restraint is used to perfection on many moments, such as the track as mentioned above.
The back half of the record has a plethora of crowd-pleasing anthems, such as the near-shouted “Back to the Swing,” the disco feel-good vibes of “Taste of You,” and the 90’s pop of “Chippin’ Away.” By the time you reach the final track of “Warriors,” you will have come to the same conclusion as me: Allen Stone has got this music thing figured out pretty damn well. Soulful voice, powerful hooks, and stellar production all lead this to be one of my favorite efforts as we round out 2019.