Interview: Allen Stone Discusses His New Record and White Bear Croissants
Allen Stone is bringing soul music back. At twenty-five, the singer from Chewelah, Washington is finally getting the attention that places artists at the top of the music world. How is he doing it? One mind-blowing note at a time. The sound doesn’t quite match the man by some standards, but rest assured it’s a divine right.
“I grew up singing in the church,” Allen shares when asked about his musical start up. “My father was a minister so we attended services several times a week. My favorite part of the experience was getting to sing every day; it wasn’t until my early teens that I became involved in secular music,” and involved in it he is. From church choirs to USA Today and The New York Times comparing the young musician to legends like Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, he’s gaining a notable reputation as a powerhouse to look out for. “It’s very intimidating but also very flattering [to be compared to Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye],” Stone admits, “Those are some of my favorite artists and I look up to them, so it is an honor to be compared to them.”
Although comparisons are at times somewhat daunting and even offensive, Stone feels somewhat at home with the responses to his sound, “Soul music is the best way to describe it [my music]; it’s what I love to play.” His debut record Last to Speak, released back in 2009, doesn’t fall short of amazing. The record holds its own with its rich and raw vibe. It was obvious even then that Stone’s voice and lyrical talent is well beyond his years. His fans respected his music and message from tracks like “Last to Speak” and “False Alarms,” which are deeper, more intellectual discussions about religious warfare and unhealthy relationships, respectively. Still, Stone seems to have pushed himself further the second time around when creating his version of soul music on his Allen Stone album. “The canvas was bigger for the second record because I had more soul music experienced musicians,” Stone explains when asked about the developmental differences between his debut and his self-titled release. “They understood my vision and helped me shape the kind of record I’d always wanted to make.”
Despite the developmental differences of the two albums, Stone remains as socially conscious and poetic on his self-titled release. “Nothing to Prove” and “Unaware” are two powerful tracks that delve into the relatable issues of self-acceptance and the difference between want and need. His inspiration for creativity is simple enough, “learning and progression inspires me,” Stone says, but what comes first: the sound or the words? “It’s gone either way, not every song is the same. Sometimes I’ll have lyrics in my head that I write a melody to, sometimes it’s the other way around.” It’s not easy to tell what songs developed which way, but the end result is either a feel good beat with a get-your-priorities-in-order lesson like “Contact High” or an infectious seduction of his baby smooth charm on tracks like “Your Eyes.” As a fan, it’s hard to choose a favorite, but Stone has chosen “The Wind,” the fifth track on Allen Stone as his most prized possession. “I’m very proud of ‘The Wind’ because I wrote it by myself and it was lyrically different from what I do when I co-write,” he shares. Upon listening to the track, there are metaphoric elements and imagery that set the song apart from more grounded, realistic scenarios throughout the record.
With that being said, it must be ten times more amazing to play his pride and joy live, which is exactly what he has been doing on his current world tour. Stone has been on the road since August and will be until at least the end of January. “It’s a dream come true,” Stone says about hitting the road again, “The most exciting experience thus far has been coming back to Europe for the second time and seeing how many more fans are coming out to the shows than the first time. Dublin, for example, had four times as many attendees as when we were here in April.” If you weren’t lucky enough to catch him in Philly at World Café Live back in September, it’s okay. Stone seems to love this touring gig and will at least be making an appearance in Boston, January 20th. It’s a road trip worth taking according to concert reviewers who love his energy as much as his red framed glasses.
But what happens after such a kick ass tour? “Lots and lots of sleep, in an actual bed,” Stone reveals before assuring fans he won’t be spending all his free time resting his laurels, “also writing for a new record,” he goes on to say. So, what would be another dream come true for this blonde phenomenon? A few collaborations with the likes of DangerMouse, Stevie Wonder, Tingsek, and Benny Sings would just about complete his musical world, according to Stone. It’s almost certain his mix of fans would agree; from young hipsters to old school hippies, Stone has managed to open an agreeable musical platform for awestruck audiences from all walks of life. Yet, a wayward curiosity begs the question: what if music weren’t an option for Stone? Would he cease to exist? “I’d be a veterinarian, I love animals,” Stone discloses, making the ladies swoon even more. A blue-eyed-soul-singing-blonde-locked-church-boy-adorkable-animal-loving-guitar-strumming-musician? Yes please!
Allen Stone is a proven creative talent, but the self-titled album business is so last year. What better way to find a new album name than to combine his favorite color, animal, and first thing he ate? The result: White Bear Croissant. Not too shabby and somewhat fitting.
Anyhoot, there you have it folks: Allen Stone in all his glory. Be sure to show a little love and purchase White Be-, I mean, Allen Stone on iTunes/Amazon. Feel free to listen to the new album via his official website.