Angie Stone Mahogany Soul Review

Released 2001.  

BBC Review

A confident musical statement of what it means to be African-American

Daryl Easlea 2009

By the time Angie Stone released her second album, Mahogany Soul in 2001, she brought some 20 years experience to her work. Stone had been an accomplished session vocalist as well as singing with the Sequence and Vertical Hold. The follow-up to 1999’s Black Diamond, Mahogany Soul is a confident musical statement of what it means to be African-American and came to define the neo-soul movement of the early 21st century

Rootsy and real, it sets out its stall with Soul Insurance. Opening with the refrain from Lady Marmalade, the album bathes in the hard-won glory of R&B's past. Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway are all evoked throughout, but it is not merely a hotch-potch of influences.

Working with Raphael Saadiq, Musiq Soulchild, Alicia Keys and Calvin, it is Stone's vocal arrangements and Fender Rhodes, percussion and bass contributions that give the album its slinky unity. Pissed Off is sleek, urban soul. Wish I Didn't Miss You was the standout and the hit-single. Taking its base from the O'Jays Back Stabbers, Stone portrays passion and pain perfectly.

By sounding like it could have been recorded at any point since 1971, it sounds as fresh today as it did in 2001. Mahogany Soul peaked at Number 4 in the US Billboard R&B charts and went on to go Gold. Her subsequent work has been of a similar standard, with her 2007 release, The Art Of Love and War being released on no less than Stax Records. But it is Mahogany Soul that remains her masterpiece. As she says on Soul Insurance, ''Just remember, Stone's got your back''.

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