Bespectacled, scruffy Seattle soul singer Allen Stone is streaming Radius—his third album and first on a major (Capitol Records) on iTunes Radio in advance of its release on May 26th (NEXT TUESDAY). The album, an iTunes Radio “First Play” streaming exclusive can be heard right here http://smarturl.it/RADIUSFirstPlay and pre-ordered on iTunes (it’s also available on vinyl, in case you share my affinity for that medium).
While Allen Stone has been in my periphery for a while now, it wasn’t until I heard “Upside,” the second teaser track released from Radius in Spotify’s New Music Tuesday playlist that I actually stopped to look who was singing. The song hooked me from the start, when Stone launches right into the song’s intro with that soulful snarl of his; “It k-e-e-e-ps turning me u-p-s-i-i-i-de d-o-w-w-w-n. It k-e-e-e-ps pulling me u-n-d-e-r-g-r-ou-u-n-d.” Up-tempo with a retro soul quality about it, “Upside” remains fresh but still funky. Keeping music in this genre fresh isn’t an easy feat in this day and age. Soul music is a genre with some MAJOR history behind it, so artists today have to be very careful and calculated when it comes to releasing new soul music or else there will be the inevitable comparisons to great soul singers of the past, not necessarily a bad thing, but as a new artist you want to carve out your own niche. Back in 2014, Capitol Records released “Million,” a slow-and-steady soul-ditty that takes it’s sweet time building to the chorus, where Allen Stone really gets to show off his chops, WAILING like one of the greats. While “Million” showcases Stone’s vocal chops, “Upside” takes things to the NEXT LEVEL.
With the latest single “Freedom“, Stone switches things up yet again, almost taking things into a pop direction. Not necessarily a BAD thing but kind of unexpected given the distinctly soulful sound heard on both “Million” and “Upside.” While the song has soul running through it’s veins, it feels more Top 40 Radio friendly than anything else Stone’s put out to date. I guess this all makes sense, given that it was produced by Benny Cassette, an LA-based producer/songwriter with credits to his name on releases from Mary Lambert, Miguel and synthpop singer DEV. Cassette has also remixed songs by Sky Ferreira and John Legend, in addition to releasing his own solo material. However you want to classify “Freedom‘s” genre, there’s no denying that it’s a HOT TRACK.
This fiery, up-tempo tune features a rousing horn section that really gets the party started, all while showcasing Stone’s seriously sick falsetto that recalls that of Eli “Paperboy” Reed or even majorly underrated British pop phenom Frankmusik. In fact, the first time I heard “Freedom” (once again, on Spotify’s New Music Tuesday playlist) I thought it WAS Frankmusik. Imagine my surprise, when I saw it was Allen Stone—taking me by surprise for the second time in the span of a couple weeks.
Allen Stone kicks off his own headlining tour tonight, May 22nd just outside of Boston at Arts at the Armory in Somerville. He’ll also be joining OAR on their tour this summer, concluding September 18th in San Diego. For a full list of tour dates, check out his official site. In case you missed his recent performance of “Freedom” on Late Night With Seth Meyers, check that out here. I for one am pre-ordering Radius right now and I think you should too.