Album of the week
No one has ever been able to seize the throne from Aretha Franklin, but if there is an opening for Princess of Soul, Angie Stone is readying her résumé. Stone, whose 1999 debut, Black Diamond, spawned the hit "No More Rain (In This Cloud)," continues to dazzle. The first single, "Brotha," is a funk-driven homage to black men. "Mad Issues" fuses vintage soul melodies with contemporary urban lyrics. And whether you're in love or ever hope to be, "Bottles & Cans" will hit home: "I'd rather be pickin' up bottles and cans/ I'd rather be homeless in the streets with no food to eat/I'd rather be facing 20 to life if I can't be your wife."
Like Aretha, Stone got her start in a church choir; those roots show in the gospel-tinted "Time of the Month." Stone has said she even wants her own church. Here's hoping she can divvy up pulpit and studio time to keep making music that engages the hips and the heart.
Bottom Line: A well-polished Stone