Angie Stone, ‘Rich Girl’ album review

September 24, 2012

Over the course of more than 30 years now, Angie Stone has amassed a considerable résumé, first as an MC with pioneering female rappers the Sequence and, most recently, as a solo artist whose silky, sample-heavy brand of neo-soul has won her Grammy nominations and gold records. On “Rich Girl,” her sixth solo album , she sounds as assured as ever with a groove-steeped mix of ballads and mid-tempo testimonials to self-possession and resilience.

A languorous slow jam redolent of her late ’90s collaborations with D’Angelo, the title track is as suited to the bedroom as a 12-step meeting, its lyrics addressing both the needs of body and soul. Propelled by funky chank-a-lank guitar, “Backup Plan” celebrates womanly independence while “Proud of Me,” a self-affirming ballad, is buoyed by sisterly vocal call-and-response. Abounding with beats and insights, other tracks shine an unflinching light on fraught-but-salvageable relationships.

Malcolm-Jamal Warner (Theo Huxtable of “The Cosby Show” fame) chips in a poetry-slam-style spoken-word interlude in praise of the singer, whose sumptuous alto glides over one groove after another here, from boot-knockin’ ballad “Alright” to “Livin’ It Up,” an up-tempo revival of late-’80s new jack swing. Without a misstep among the pressing beats and handclaps that animate these 15 tracks, the redoubtable Stone proves herself to be in complete command of the smart, sexy neo-soul she’s been perfecting ever since the release of her signature 1999 single, “No More Rain (In This Cloud).”

Bill Friskics-Warren

Recommended Tracks

“Proud of Me,” “Alright,” “Backup Plan”

Cover art for Angie Stone's album ‘Rich Girl.’ (Courtesy of Saguaro Road Records)
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