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Allen Stone: Funky Soul Music With A Message

Jon Norton

GLT's student music reviewer Matthew Mullins is spreading the word about a new soul album by an emerging artist.  The Normal Community West High School senior says Allen Stone's Radius has barely left his turntable this month. Mullins said like himself, Stone is a young guy from a small town.

"He grew up in the church singing and playing guitar.  He just signed with Capital Records" said Mullins.  "He's a singer-songwriter with a lot of soul.  His biggest influences were Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Donny Hathaway, and Sam Cooke."

Mullins said he became aware of Stone when he stumbled onto the song Unaware on YouTube.  He said he was floored by Stone's incredible bass and chest voice that could seemingly belt out any note.

Mullins said "He has this amazing falsetto head voice that would blow the audience away.  Then I heard The Wind and The Bed I Made as well as his self-titled album and fell in love with this new sound that stays true to the soul genre."

The messages conveyed on Radius is another aspect that drew Mullins into the album.  He says the song "Fake Future" is about how society is changing because human's are interacting more with technology at the expense of interpersonal communication.

"He's trying to say decades ago it wasn't this way.  We had more human interaction in the past.  Today it's about these new technological advancements.  Some have been helpful, but many have not contributed to our society" said Mullins.


Mullins said similar to Prince, Allen Stone attacks rhythm in Fake Future and other songs with a funky driving groove.

"Another thing I like about Stone is that his vocals are very pure. He doesn't do much editing to his vocals.  He has a kind of growl and it shows throughout the album, and definitely in Fake Future" said Mullins.

American Privilege is another Mullins favorite on Radius.  He said the song shows how Stone grew up in a privileged home.

"He has this background growing up white being loved by his parents.  In the song, he gives examples of child labor and human rights violations.  He's talking about how it's a privilege he has that he wishes he could share with everyone" said Mullins. "This whole album isn't just about his love and his personal experiences.  It's also a political and social statement.  And musically, it has this intro that reminisces of the 70's and 80's with a hardcore rhythm. And the keyboards and funky bass line shine through“ said Mullins.

Jon Norton is the audio director at WGLT and WCBU. He also is host of All Things Considered every weekday.