Singer Allen Stone has the golden voice reminiscent of honey, treacle and all those smooth, sexy adjectives people use. In spite of this, however, I have some bad news, the Radius 2016 deluxe reissue is an album I’m left feeling inherently at odds with.
Golden voiced funk master Allen Stone is a wonder to behold in a live setting but Radius (Deluxe) seems to lack in his, usually dazzling, soul power.
The album opens with Perfect World, a track that’s lively and fun and furiously catchy. Stone’s voice warms the edges of sharp percussion with confidence and as the track gains momentum, a jungle of melodic squiggles and notes sprinkle decadently across the piece. It’s inherently wiggly, lively and funky and sets expectations for the remainder of the album.
Sadly this is where my enthusiasm takes a sharp detour, while Stone’s voice continues to be tuneful and solid, tracks Circle and American Privilege are gratingly reminiscent of irritating bindi-wearing festival goers; on the cheese scale they’re up there with stilton.
Freezer Burn meanwhile is heavy with overblown production and just leaves me disinterested and reaching for the skip button despite its vast potential to have become a funk masterpiece.
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It’s American Idol-esque territory and, try as I might, there’s no bonding with this album which sees trumpets thrown in willy-nilly as punctuation marks to awkward song outros. Perhaps it’s not so much the songs at fault here, but the over glossed production that leaves some miraculous vocal and instrumental performances falling flat in amongst chaotic and unnecessary additions.
Examining the lyrics are no help either, The Weekend boasts the insightful: ‘move, groove, fancy shoes.’ Byron, Shelley, Keats – eat your heart out. Again, even lyrically, the intention seems pure, with a strong message of love and free spiritedness woven throughout; unfortunately however, the meaning is dulled down by cliche.
Radius is in the unfortunate place of being billed as a soul album when Allen Stone’s mountainous soul that many have come to love in a live setting is almost nowhere to be found in the studio. It offers little variety and, with the exception of Perfect World, just drifts by inconsequentially, laden with heavy production and dripping in that aforementioned pasteurised milk-based product.
Being a 21-track album in its bonus form, it may have benefit from trimming some fat, starting with the cheese because, in truth, the potential is there and some songs from Radius seem like diamonds that have been rolled in mud, the just need a little cleaning up.
This one’s definitely better suited to voice enthusiasts and isn’t the best representation of the soul powerhouse that is Allen Stone, most of the time. Catch this guy live and you’ll know exactly what I mean. If you want to listen to a funky Stone, stick with Sly.