Angie Stone, Rich Girl | Album Review
On Rich Girl, neo-soul veteran Angie Stone delivers a consistent, good album that never quite reaches the status of a great album.
Angie Stone – the direct pipeline for Gladys Knight, given her deep, rich alto – has lost some of her luster. Why? The neo-soul movement really doesn’t exist no mo. Here latest album, Rich Girl is good, not great. To say it’s not vintage Stone would be an understatement, but to say she’s on autopilot would be an overstatement. Nonetheless, Rich Girl features solid neo-soul production with lush sounds, lazy bass lines, rich background vocals, and of course Stone’s alto.
1st Tier: The Highlights
“Do What You Gotta Do,” the second track on Rich Girl, didn’t initially blow me away as a single. Nonetheless, it’s more likable on the album in context. It makes nice use of supporting background vocals that complement Stone’s lead. “Do What You Gotta Do” uses typical old school, neo-soul production.
“Backup Plan,” the third track on Rich Girl, clings to old-school sensibility. It sounds like it’s native to the 1970s. The production creates this sensibility: dusty drum programming, soul-funk guitars, and keyboards. Once more, Stone delivers solid vocals, with solid supporting vocals
“Guilty,” the sixth track, delivers excellent balladry from Stone. Her nuances and ad libs shine. A bit slow and drawn out, in the same respect, it’s relaxed and respectably paced. Production work with gospel-soul sensibility – particularly a big fat bass line – helps it to stand out.
Title track “Rich Girl,” the ninth track, is arguably the best. This is the most suitable cut for Stone, complemented by the backing vocals allowing for her to successfully ad lib. This still isn’t flashy, but gets the job done without pulling out all the stops and whistles.
2nd Tier: The Good
“Right in Front of Me,” the 10th track, features an excellent soul groove. Again, it’s not flashy, but solid and consistent. It has a spark, but not the spark of the aforementioned highlights. Ultimately, “Right in Front of Me” could use more “oomph” to make it more distinct.
“U Lit My Fire,” the 14th track, also features a fine soul groove. Stone’s vocals are a bit casual on the verse, needing more oomph. Boding well in its favor is an excellent chorus:
“The first time that I met you baby… you lit my fire/ You lit my fire…”
“Sisters,” the 15th track, comes off a bit schmaltzy. Still, everyone enjoys a good sista anthem, right? The adult contemporary R&B production is solid – NOT FLASHY. The chorus and vocals by Stone are selling points. “Sisters” closes the album well.
Pros: Stone’s rich vocals easily ride above the production work. While the production work isn’t flashy, it’s consistent with the neo-soul palette. In regards to songwriting, Rich Girl features solid, non-flashy cuts that suit Stone’s old-school sensibility.
Cons: The songwriting is more pro than not, but there’s nothing that bites here. It’s consistent enough with some standouts, but not flashy. In regards to excitability, nothing makes you jump up and want to dance or even sing-along. Rich Girl, hence, isn’t an exciting album. Even the cover fails to suggest an exhilarating ride; conservative. While the album is only 50 minutes in duration, 40 minutes would’ve been sufficient.
Verdict: All in all, Rich Girl is solid, soulful and consistent for the most part. This isn’t an album for a long road trip.
Publication Note: This article was original published on Brent Music Reviews on September 26, 2012 as Album Short Take: Angie Stone, Rich Girl. This version has been edited.
Gems: “Do What You Gotta Do,” “Backup Plan,” “Guilty” & “Rich Girl”