André Cymone

The Stone

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The unsung Andre Cymone returned from an extended family-man absence in 2012 with "America," a stirring and realistic rocker. Its proceeds went to the campaign to re-elect Barack Obama. The following year, he recorded another not-for-profit song, the acoustic ballad "Trayvon," written in response to the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. These singles, along with crowdfunding assistance, helped push the musician and producer toward the making and release of his fourth album, his first since 1985. He wastes no time making his direction known, opening The Stone with "Rock and Roll," an all-thrills, no-sonic-frills bolt of blues-rock. Back when he was livin' in the new wave, Cymone sang with a youthful debonair brat quality. Here, he's just as energized but sounds as if he has spent several years -- to great effect -- playing bars with a hungry band. Throughout what follows, Cymone plays lead guitar, while he also performs occasional bass, supported by a basic band setup with some keyboards and a trio of background vocalists. As conveyed with the 2012 and 2013 songs, Cymone comes across as a wise and warmhearted everyman, though it's clear -- through exuberant numbers like "Naked," "Radio," and "Live Life," as well as the folky "It's Alright" -- that he still likes to let loose a bit. The quieter numbers, some of which are wholly acoustic, tend to be just as solid. Hopefully this is merely the first Andre Cymone album made without what the artist calls "corporate interference." It's an inspired return. Part of the album's cut is being directed to the nonprofit organization GEMS (Girls Educational and Mentoring Services).

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