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Angie Stone

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Right here in these hands we have just about the hottest property around, I kid ya not. Angie Stone's near-Platinum album Black Diamond opens with the very infectious funky drum-driven "Green Grass Vapours," then explodes into a gold mine of top quality R&B and soul. Firstly there is the debut single, "No More Rain (In This Cloud)." Not only did it spend 10 weeks at the #1 spot on the R&B/Urban AC charts, but you could put this cut up against anything from the past 10 years with a soulful vein and believe me you won't beat it. Angie Stone (for the uninitiated) was lead vocalist for Vertical hold. Her voice is of jaw-dropping quality and the totally sympathetic and bang on production is just about perfect. It�s exactly the sort of cut ya have blasting out of ya cassette deck on a summer's day with the roof down and not a care in the world. This soulful gem shines out very brightly.

The album restores your faith in R&B music and this is no more evident than on the cut "Visions" - a guitar-strummed introed track full of classy keyboard stabs, smooth as silk snares that act together as the perfect backdrop to the Stone vocals. "Life Story" continues the flow, albeit in a slightly more abstract vein than the previous cuts, being a more leftfield styled outing - but just as powerful. Last year we saw Angie featured on another act's track under the name Devox - a track called "Everyday" which, thankfully, is included here as well. Many of you will know this as a Mary J Blige track but the fact is, that it was first written for Devox by Angie Stone and D'Angelo produced by Gerry DeVeaux and Russ Elevado. This scat-sounding bass drum-thumping head nodder graced many a radio show and rightfully ended up on the "INCredible Sound Of Trevor Nelson" compilation set. Meaningful lyrical content comes through on the "Just A Pimp" which bears a resemblance to a slowed down version of War's "The World Is A Ghetto." More head nod appeal comes in the shape of the droning "Without You" but just when you thought things couldn't get much better, outta the speakers pops "Coulda Been You" - potent lyrics are matched by a sultry, seductive vocal which hits hard at all the right points. "Stone Cold" is a smooth swayer; "Ready For Love" is a silky smooth soulful ballad and to finish off this excellent set there is the drum-driven and very appealing "You Are My High" featuring EFX.

Although Angie Stone is a relatively new artist, if you have an ounce of soul/R&B in your blood (and I know ya do) track this album down immediately.

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