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VINE VOICEon October 28, 2007
One day in October 2005, I was innocently walking down the aisles of my favorite music store. My eyes wandered back and forth until they locked on the little row of Angie Stone albums. I saw a cover picture that I'd never seen before and I was curious. I have all three of her wonderful albums released thus far... what could this be? As I stepped closer, my heart skipped a beat. 'Stone Hits: The Very Best of Angie Stone'?! A terribly random tracklisting with an incredibly ameteur photoshopped cover to boot? And it's officially executive produced by Ms. Stone herself, and not just of those cheap 'Sony specical divisions' compilations sold for $6.99? I immediately knew it was probably a way to make quick money and to fulfill her contract with J Records, but a question that I could not ignore rang in my head: is this the end of Angie Stone's music-making career? And I almost cried when I saw her name on the roster for VH1's Celebrity Fit Club 3, which, quite frankly, is a way for has-beens to make a quick buck and maybe gain a little exposure.

So you can only imagine the 'halelujahs' I shouted when I saw her video for "Baby" on TV one fine summer day. After finally accepting the fact that one of my favorite singers was gone from the industry for good, here she comes out of nowhere! The song, a collaboration with soul legend Betty Wright, remains one of my favorites off the album. The two ladies' layered harmonies over the bass-heavy and simplistic production proved to be an excellent first single. The song tells of the classic tale of a lover who forgets about the people who helped him make it to the top. (The songs is obviously about Angie's past relationship with D'Angelo).

The Art of Love and War is a perfect title for the album, whose subject matter is composed of equal parts of painful past relationships ("Go Back To Your Life," "Here We Go Again," etc.) and the hapiness of her new love with husband Ashanit ("Wait For Me," "Sit Down," more).

"Pop Pop" is another highlight. On the relaxing slow jam, which begins with the sound of a champagne cork being popped, Angie's voice oozes with sensuality as do the lyrics. I like to look at it as a full-length sequel to Stone Love's "Touch It" interlude. "Play Wit It" is a funky and confident track where Angie not-so-coyly brags about her hit-making ability; she is here to stay! The 'if you want some, come get some' attitude of the track is sure to make it a favorite.

As much as I love every single song off the album, my absolute favorite is "My People," with talented guest artist, James Ingram. Over soaring and vibrant production, Angie delivers inspirational lyrics to her people to keep their head up and keep advancing further and further. Powerful lines like "only we can save us from us/think about change, re-arrange, show our people love" really make for an emotionally touching track. After almost two minutes of James and Angie alternating turns to name influential black people of the past and present, the background of minimalistic tribal drums and African-style chants fades and Angie adds an odd person to the list... "Bill Clinton. That's right, I said it. Y'all know that was the 'first black man in the white house.'" She lets out a playful chuckle, ending the song. The five minutes of uncontrollable, full-bellied laughter that line caused me was worth the price of the album alone!

To get to the point, Angie Stone's fourth album, The Art of Love and War, is an amazing album. Each and every song is great, raw soul that carries on the tradition of the Stax label. If you love Angie's music, soul music, or just music... this will definitely be pleasing to you. Definitely one of my favorite albums of the year thus far.
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VINE VOICEon October 17, 2007
With a voice just as good as jill scott and lyrics to match. Angie has snapped with yet another album of soulful feel good music. It is good to hear music for grown ups still exists and Angie is bringing the thunder for those that know how to appreciate good music. With solid production to cap the album off, this is a great release for your collection.
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on December 26, 2007
There isn't one negative thing I can say about Angie Stone. I have read and seen her in several interviews, and she appears to be a grounded, sweet and sincere individual. I have her entire discography ("Black Diamond", "Mahogany Soul", "Stone Love" and "The Art of Love and War"), and all of her albums are good, if not magnificent. "The Art of Love and War" easily falls under the magnificent category. With her pure, beautiful voice, her meaningful lyrics and the very impressive production on this album, there should be no question as to why she is one of Neo-Soul's most respected and skilled artists.

After listening to "The Art of Love and War", I wanted more Angie Stone, so I replayed some of my favorite cuts from the album. This album is inundated with midtempos and slower cuts, but it's always nice to have an album with a relaxed feel. What I like most about her is her ability to harmonize with herself. Her harmonies are just splendid! The first song on an album should be one of the best, because if it's not a strong cut, it could cause the listener to turn the album off altogether. The first track on this album is called "Take Everything In", and it's the album's best cut! The lyrics and the hook are what makes this song shine. "Baby" lacks creativity, and ultimately it's one of the album's weaker cuts, but it's still worth listening to. There is a lot of piano and percussion on this album (Yay! My two favorite instruments!). "Half a Chance" is a piano ballad and lyrically it's a good song. The harmonica found on "Happy Being Me" reminds me of "That's What Friends Are For." This song is about being truly happy with yourself regardless of trivial flaws. I was impressed with it, Angie outdid herself, but doesn't she always?

Angie Stone is such an unsung talent. If you are only partially familiar with her because you've seen her videos or heard a song or two on the radio, you should be good to yourself and purchase one of her albums. My personal favorites are "Mahogany Soul" and "The Art of Love and War", but all of her albums are good, so just take your pick! Very nice album, overall. 4 bright stars.

Mikeisha's Top 5

1. "Happy Being Me"
2. "Take Everything In"
3. "Pop Pop"
4. "Wait for Me"
5. "Sometimes"
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on October 25, 2007
Angie's cd is jazzy sexy... This cd is soooo nice. I love the Angie and Betty Wright collab...wonderful. I have this and Jill Scott's on constant rotation. If you're over 35 damn near 40 then you will appreciate the neo-jazz sound for which Ms. Stone is known to bring. Keep doing you Ang!
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on November 1, 2007
Smooth Jazz has been graced with genius... thank you Concord Music Group for teaming up with Stax Records to give us this opportunity to prove that we get it... our listeners want, make that need, new music reflective of the times. Nothing wrong with the Temptations and 24-year-old Sade tunes (yes, DIAMOND LIFE was released that long ago). But Smooth Jazz is perilously close to missing the paradigm shift of a changing world that offers new music around every corner. "Happy Being Me," Angie Stone's new single for smooth radio is ideal for enlightening the format. Its simple, sophisticated vibe and organic instrumentation dances in the mix. I'm also recommending the cool, retro groove "Sit Down" for Smooth Jazz, but wouldn't rule out "Baby" or "Pop Pop." THE ART OF LOVE & WAR was recorded in Marvin Gaye's studio on Sunset Blvd. Angie seemingly absorbed the energy. Referred to as the Princess of Soul (in deference to Aretha), Angie is a pioneer in soul music. She's been forging her career since she was a young girl in South Carolina. Her trio The Sequence, recorded for Sugarhill Records and later her neo-soul trio Vertical Hold, recorded for A&M. Angie hit the R&B Top 10 with "No More Rain (In This Cloud) and then signed with J-Records which put her high on the Radar. THE ART OF LOVE & WAR is Angie's powerful return and is filled with gladness and joy and lots and lots of smooth soul. Radio is not the only place to find new music anymore - time to give the people what they want... we want Angie!
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on January 11, 2013
Yes I loved this CD all the songs and especially My People. Its a great CD to dance to and to wind down to. Some songs are R&B others have a touch of Soul. I enjoyed it. Also this is about the 3rd album I have tom Angie Stone and I enjoy all of them.
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on October 19, 2007
There are few singers who are able to release consistently fabulous albums, but Angie Stone is one of them. "The art of love and war" is her fourth studio release and features earthy soul/funk sounds like the uptempo horn peppered "Play with it", "Take everything in" (nice piano), the retro sounding "Baby" (with Betty Wright), and the simply outstanding stomping "My people" (with James Ingram) with lyrics about her "people", Quincy Jones, Mandela, Oprah, Tiger Woods, Rosa Parks, Obama and King among those hailed in the black hall of fame. Its bouncy bassline dares you not to dance while thinking on the message.

Like her previous efforts, the sound is more mid-to-downtempo; songs like the lovely piano sprinkled "Half a chance" (featuring John Legend), the harmonious accapella "Go back to your life", "Make it last", the sweeping "Pop pop", and the lush semi-acoustic closing ballad "Happy being me" (with Paulette Washington), sounding like a seventies classic a-la Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye.

Her singing is fantastic (as usual) and the sound rich and well played/produced. Hopefully, this will be the album to finally put Ms Stone up where she belongs, alongside the Jill Scotts and John Legends, people who are doing great things with soul music.
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on November 23, 2007
First of all, let me just say that this is by far the SWEEEETEST R&B album ever!
I heard the first release "Baby" with Betty Wright and was blown away with the collaboration. I figured that the rest of the album should be good too. Yes, that and some!! The "Art of Love and War" far exceeded my expectations. I am quite impressed because every song just "brings" it! You can groove, dance or just chill to the beat. The music is very neo-soul jazz. This album would make a great soundtrack for a movie like "Love Jones". My favorite tracks are #2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, and 14.
One thing I like about Angie's music is that she "KEEPS IT REAL"! She addresses issues like love, empowerment, and life in general. I especially love how she gives props to those who have paved the way for people of color with the song "My People" featuring James Ingram. I honestly can't stop raving about this album. I've never written a review before but this album deserves it. I would highly recommend adding this album to your music library. This would make a great holiday gift as well. You will not be disappointed! KUDOS TO YOU ANGIE STONE!
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on November 23, 2007
Angie Stone is incredibly talented. This cd is a great display of her abilities and truly sets her above all of her contemporaries. Best tracks in my opinion are These Are the Reasons, Baby, Half a Chance, and Make it Last. In the past, I wasn't all that crazy about her material but this cd is different. The love and war theme is obvious but nothing screams angry, black woman or mad as hell. It chronicles the good and the bad of relationships with equal parts joy and pain. This woman is a master at her craft and she has stepped up her game with this cd. Its a must buy. You won't be disappointed. Buy it now. Stop thinking it over. Just do it!
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on October 16, 2007
She's an amazing singer and I'm diggin' this new album. I watched her on Tavis Smiley last night and she talked about the process of making this album and getting to record in Marvin Gaye's studio, which sounds awesome. This one is gold and I can't stop listening to it! Definitely recommend this one for the 'real' music lovers and anyone looking to find something genuine to listen to.
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