Angie Stone came to prominence at a time when neo-soul divas were exploding faster than Pop Rocks. With the chart onslaught of Jill Scott, Mary J. Blige, and Macy Gray, it was easy for Stone to get lost in the undertow of media hype surrounding the movement. But quietly and evenhandedly she amassed a three-record set of smooth neo-soul and contemporary R&B numbers that rival and sometimes best the output of her contemporaries. So it seems premature in a five-year career to have a best-of compilation out, but these 15 selections (featuring a couple newly minted tunes mixed in for good measure and buyer incentive) add up to a most satisfying listening experience. With her vocal delivery, Stone belts tunes out better than most (save for Scott, but comparing vocal stylings between the two is comparing apples and oranges), and covers some of soul music's more obscure classics, making them her own with reverence and ease. And it seems that with each new release she becomes more focused and distinct from her contemporaries, and as a result, turns out one of the better greatest-hits compilations from this era. It'll be interesting to see the direction Angie Stone travels next.
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