Published Mar 23, 2016Let's get the obvious out of the way: Allen Stone wears his influences on his sleeve. On his third offering and major label debut Radius (originally released in 2015 but given the deluxe treatment with seven additional songs) the Chewelah, Washington-bred Stone echoes Stevie, Donny, Curtis and D'Angelo, to name a few — and he does it well.
"Freezer Burn" recalls Talking Book-era Stevie Wonder with a clavinet punctuated bump; "American Privilege" is a perceptive exploration in which the blue-eyed soul singer lists the unwarranted consequences of white privilege over a solemn groove; and "Upside" rocks a contagious uptempo 1980s funk vibe. Stone is a fluid vocalist, and if the maudlin "Love Where You're At" seems at best a concession to adult contemporary airplay and at worst some of the filler that taints an otherwise solid album, cut the 29-year-old some slack — especially when he's gifted us such gems as the cheery "Perfect World" and the folk-funk of "Voodoo."
Whether Stone can transcend his influences and shape them into a signature sound remains to be seen, but given the quality of much of Radius, it's worth sticking around for what he'll come up with next. (ATO/Cadence Music)