Allen Stone is to pop what Mark Ronson is to music as a whole; everything it wants, plus an infectious injection of necessary funk and soul. His first major label album Radius saw Stone establish himself as an emotive songwriter with the catchy hooks of Olly Murs and the soulfulness of Alabama Shakes. And with its new, deluxe release – including 7 previously unreleased songs –, Stone has managed to cement the foundations of authenticity and introspective inquisition laid by its predecessor.
Groovy and exploratory, this record captivates listeners by sucking you in with audible influences of gospel (with the clap driven beat in opener Perfect World), that are contrasted by the shyer acoustic approach to the albums more intimate moments (such as R&B inspired Circles). There is an undoubted amount of skill in the way that Allen Stone can enthrall listeners with potently danceable ballads that leave you incapable of staying still – only to then engulf your auditory senses in a blanket of stripped back, heart-wrenching turmoil. Yet even when its lyrics get deep, Radius Deluxe uses its uncompromisingly iridescent production to keep the record light-hearted, with funky basslines and chord-driven melodies.
On songs like Fake Future, there is an iridescent hint of James Brown in his vocal delivery, as well as being one of the standout tracks in showing his lyrical competence. This song, along with American Privilege and The Wire alike show Stone as a poetic author, offering comment on our haggard society. Bonus track Pressure is where he outpours his emotions towards the strain and frustration tied to his chosen career, chanting “what am I gonna do with all this pressure” atop a choir of layered falsetto harmonies.
More than anything else, the bonus tracks on this album offer themselves as an extension of all themes explored in the main body of the original 14-track record. There are moments where both the subject matter and the groove begin to feel considerably exhausted, particularly with songs like Bed I Made, but then Allen Stone makes music to fit a specific niche. And with that in mind, Radius Deluxe certainly ticks all of the required boxes.