Recording information: Conway Recording Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Lair Studios L.A, CA; Penn Station Recording, Lithia Springs, GA; The Heavyweights Studios; The Writers Room, Atlanta, GA.
Photographer: Breyona Holt.
From her solo R&B debut in 1999 through the release of her sixth album in 2012, Angie Stone issued a new studio set every two or three years. Despite being as occupied as ever on-stage and on the big and small screens, the singer kept her recording routine intact with her seventh album. Not even a bumpy reality TV experience and a domestic aggravated assault charge -- the result of an altercation with her daughter -- threw her off her routine, though she did consider ending her three-decade music career. Following short stints with the Stax and Saguaro Road labels, she fell in with Shanachie, a stable haven for R&B artists of her caliber, through an alliance with supporter and Stone Love collaborator Walter Millsap III. Millsap and Stone co-wrote the majority of these ten songs with a core group that included Candice Nelson, Balewa Muhammad, and Teak Underdue, among others. While it doesn't sound as big-budgeted as her earlier releases, Dream is very much in line with Stone's discography, neither straight retro-soul nor pop-oriented contemporary R&B, though it does lean closer to the former. Flirty opener "Dollar Bill" coasts on a boogie groove reminiscent of Slave's "Watching You" (and therefore Odyssey's "Inside Out"), and it sets the tone for a concise album where the singer covers a lot of ground, batting her eyelashes, declaring devotion, seeking affirmation, repairing a relationship, and scolding an immature lover. The songs on which she and Nelson make like a mid-'60s soul-pop duo help the album stand out, while the contemporary "Begin Again," featuring Dave Hollister, is one of the year's finest duets. ~ Andy Kellman