A backup singer, an occasional producer, and once the leader of an all-girl singing group, Angie Stone presents an impressive fusion of classic soul, '80s funk, and '90s hip-hop in her solo debut, Black Diamond. Purposefully positive, the album chronicles Stone's journeys maintaining personal faith and loving relationships, resplendent with new takes on traditional soul sounds. Stone supports her songwriting and vocal talents with help from A-list musicians/writer/producers such as Lenny Kravitz and D'Angelo. The sophisticated mix is elevated by Stone's incredible voice. With a continuous easy groove, she never resorts to cheap vocal acrobatics to showcase her gifts. With nods to Roberta Flack and Chaka Khan and stylistic similarities to Lauryn Hill, Stone sings of the possibilities of love and life's challenges with "Life Story" and the beautiful standout single "No More Rain." When Stone reaches for a funkier, dirtier groove, the result is riveting. "Love Junkie" and "Man Loves His Money" are as sexy as any Prince song, with interesting guitar solos and funky basslines. And even when she's calling out dishonest lovers everywhere on "Bone 2 Pic" and "Just a Pimp," she makes it sound like the offenders should be ashamed for dissing such a sexy woman. Stone's sensual soul is a refreshing and much-needed alternative to silicone-coated R&B and cartoonish rap, and should satisfy fans of soul, R&B, rap, rock, and any other genre.
AllMusic Review by Theresa E. LaVeck