Old-school nu-soul girl keeps banging on…
Alfred Soto: When Billboard crowned her the Great Black Hope or something ten years ago, I thought they were already bored with Macy Gray. I’ve heard maybe ten minutes of her music, not counting this track. Here’s my official apology. Thanks to a frisky beat evoking early nineties Mariah Carey, Stone knows when to push and when to ride. Not particularly distinguished, but worth a few listens.
Matt Cibula: Not the single greatest thing of all time ever, but we celebrate because a) it’s the first Angie Stone single that really SOUNDS like an Angie Stone single, and b) it’s fun as hell and will sound great if it ever makes it on the radio.
Martin Kavka: The resurrected Stax label has been releasing new albums for almost three years now, and it doesn’t seem to be going well. All of the personality of Angie Stone’s voice, which could almost compete with Betty Wright on the weakly written single “Baby,” has been thoroughly drained. I can’t possibly figure out why, unless Stax suits believe that R&B by numbers, with the backing vox mixed way too far to the front, will sell more copies. By the end of the song, all I’m left with is the urge to listen to Carla Thomas.
Doug Robertson: All the colours are there, but not one of them is being used to any dramatic effect. It’s basically a rainbow viewed through cataracts.
Michaelangelo Matos: The tightly curled guitar figures and handclaps on the two, the light and quick vocals and effervescent feel of the whole thing: who could resist it? Sure it’s a throwback, and some of our more benighted futurists deeply suspect that kind of thing, but the goods are the goods. I understand why, though: are you hearing the sound or are you hearing the song? In this case I think it’s both: the hooks are immediate but keep deepening for me, and the speediness buoys Stone, whose ad-libs over the last minute of choruses work beautifully in part because she’s happy to let the song do the bulk of the work.
Anthony Easton: One of my favourite ways of delineating heart break is the denial. The important line in the chorus is repeated so often that it reaches Freudian levels of sublimation. Angie, darling, he is sneakin’ around, you gotta admit that to yourself.
Martin Skidmore: A trad funky backing (it could almost be from when she made her start in the ’70s) is fine with me, and she sings it with skill and style, but it feels like a neverending verse waiting on a chorus, and for most of it I felt like I was listening to (admittedly very good) backing vocals while the singer emoted a bit over the top.
John Seroff: Quick show of hands: who among us would have recognized this as 2010 Angie without reading the wrapper? Not me; this doesn’t sound half a track removed from “Everyday” or “Green Grass Vapors”. Pretty much all of Unexpected, her second release on the venerable Stax label, puts the lie to the title; every song is just what I’m expecting. Bear in mind, I’m the last to complain about Angie getting trapped in the 1999 amber; Stone’s old soul/nusoul schtick never got tired by me. Twenty more years of songs like this please.