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3.7 out of 5 stars
Unexpected
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 24, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Angie Stone's new CD "Unexpected" (aptly titled, as I had no idea she had a new CD out) is upbeat and sunny. Titled "Unexpected" due to the recent sudden passing of her father whom she was very close to, it might as well be because she takes a musical turn fans will find just that, unexpected! It is more contemporary R&B/Hip Hop than its Neo Soul predecessors, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, and have no fear, she hasn't gone all mainstream and done a Beyoncé or Chris Brown.

Opening and closing the album is "Unexpected", an upbeat spoken jam warning all to "Prepare yourself for just about anything." The pair of "I ain't hearin U" (a groovy soul song with an eighties feel), and "Free" (with nice synth-string flourishes and Stone reminding me of Akon in places) will get your feet moving.

"Maybe" is a lovely retro sounding piano ballad with lovely harmonies. "Hey Mr DJ" is a breezy horn-peppered song, perfect for the summer, while "Kiss all over your body" is a sultry ballad.

"I don't care" is a midtempo groovy Neo Soul number (a message to her haters), the ballad "Why is it" finds her telling her ex "Why is it someone else had to love me, for you to see, all that I could be?".

The upbeat auto-tuned "Tell me" might put you off at first (especially if you, like most, are sick of auto-tune), but it is a groovy grower done with class. Stone's vocals are interwoven with collaborator Juanita Wynn's for a cascading wall of sound, with a rapped bridge provided by Dose. "Think sometimes" is a throwback to seventies Soul, Staples Singers-style (with lyrics urging one to always count ones blessings despite all life throws at you), while the midtempo "I found a keeper" (sounding like a Soul girl group, complete with "Shoo do dos") is a sweet declaration of love.

As with Angie Stone CDs, there is no filler, but loads of killer.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Unexpected is Angie Stone's second release on the recently resurrected Stax label. Stone's first outing on Stax was her Grammy-nominated affair The Art of Love and War (nominated for Best R&B Collaboration for "Baby"). Overall, that album does trump 'Unexpected' and has more personality, though 'Unexpected' isn't bad in the least. Most fans, I believe, would go as far to say that Angie's releases on J Records (Black Diamond,Mahogany Soul, and Stone Love) were stronger than either of her two Stax releases. With that said, I think most fans would say that Stone has never made a 'bad' album and 'Unexpected' is no different. Additionally, Stone makes some overt visual cues with her album artwork that 'Unexpected' is a slight turn from her neo-soul driven albums. Sure, 'Unexpected' still features classic Stone, but it is a slight departure. Everything doesn't always work as smooth, but aside from the horrific "Tell Me" which finds the 48-year old Stone using auto-tune, there is nothing she should hold her head down in shame about.

"Unexpected", an introduction, starts off the album hinting at Angie's slight sound tweaking on this album. The main problem with "Unexpected" and it's later reprise is why name an album based solely off of an interlude? Does Stone want the album to sound 'unexpected' solely because she aims at a more contemporary style or was it named that for lack of a better title? Nothing to trivialize over, but you do wonder what Stone's mindset was for this project. I personally interpret it as Stone's slight departure from the neo-soul that made her popular - yet, still traces and overt neo-soul still appears here. One just wonders.

"I Ain't Hearing U" sounds somewhat different from previous album openers like "I Wanna Thank Ya" or "Take Everything In", though it isn't that far-fetched. Stone sounds great here as always and the songwriting is solid. "Free" proves to be the first true concession that Stone makes to contemporary R&B (aside from 'soul'). Stone sounds fine here, though I personally wonder if a slightly higher key would've made Stone's alto voice (she sounds like a contra-alto here actually) soar more; she sounds a bit too low here and maybe if they'd raise the key a couple of steps up, she'd have sounded even better. Overall, the song isn't bad, though it is a bit strange to hear such a contemporary Stone.

"Maybe" makes up for any raised eyebrows on "Free"; here Stone sounds very much like herself with the soulful production suiting her much better than the contemporary leanings of "Free". "Hey Mr. DJ" is a bit confusing as to whether Stone was aiming for a full length song or just an interlude. The production is good if a slight bit busy intact with multiple layers of background vocals. Enjoyable enough, Stone sounds great, particularly since she is a better key that suits her smokey voice.

"Kiss All Over Your Body" is better than a song like "Hey Mr. DJ", as it is better developed. There is more inherent soul here as well, even if it makes some concessions to contemporary R&B. One confusion is the second verse - is that a vocal effect making Stone sound like that or a guest vocalist not listed in the cover sleeve? Either way, this is one of 'Unexpected' better tracks.

"I Don't Care" has a nice groove to it, though it doesn't have much substance as far a songwriting in comparison to some of Angie's past songs. Enjoyable enough, it is still solid. "Why Is It" clearly leans towards more contemporary R&B, but proves to be be one of the more successful endeavors. Stone sounds great here, especially given the fact the key well matches her voice. "Tell Me" is by all means a miss; there's no reason for someone with such a smokey, soulful voice as Stone to ever use auto-tune. Period. "Tell Me" sounds cheap: the production is cliché at best and Stone's use of auto-tune is disappointing. I rarely criticize Stone vocally, but it wasn't necessary for Stone to use auto-tune as it sounds plain awkward on her. And let's not even mention the pointless rap verse that accompanies.

Stone atones for it with the excellent "Think Sometimes" and "I Found A Keeper", both Stone-worthy tracks. "Unexpected" is reprised at the end.

Overall, Stone delves too much into the contemporary leanings of R&B. I prefer her classic albums over this one, including 'The Art of Love & War', which had some filler material itself. The biggest issue I have with this album is it seems that Stone has a bit of an identity struggle for the first time in her lengthy career and it makes 'Unexpected' a shade bit less enjoyable than her previous albums. A bomb? Not in the least, but there is no "Baby", "U-Haul", "Brotha", or "No More Rain In This Cloud", even with the most memorable performances here ("I Ain't Hearin' U", "Maybe", "Kiss All Over Your Body", "Think Sometimes", "I Found A Keeper", etc.). 3.5 stars.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
This cd had a few good songs, but a big step down from her previous releases. Most songs sound uninspired, as if they rushed this thing out before it was ready. I wish I could take it back and get my money back.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Angie came out of nowhere with this album. I'm sure there wasn't going to be a lot of marketing for this album anyways. So Angie decided to try something different with this album. Unlike the likes of Syleena Johnson and Queen Latifah, Angie move to main stream RnB was moderate, she didn't jump into the deep end of popular RnB. I like that she gave us a mix of everything RnB with this album.

I was hoping for a neo-soul song but I guess she intended on ditching that genre completely with this album "Think Sometimes" comes really close. I like her selection of jams on songs like "I Ain't Hearin You" & "Hey Mr. DJ". Although I don't understand why a good artist like Angie can stoop so low and use Auto-tune on "Tell Me". The song is terrible and to make it worse Auto-tune was used together with Angie's voice. I really don't understand why good singers do this. Angie you don't need it.

My favorite pick for this album is "Free" I'm surprised that t-pain(sounds like him) was on this song and didn't auto-tune.(I guess Jay-Z's death of auto-tune got to him)"Why is it","Kiss All Over Your Body" I love this the duet, "Maybe" and "Think Sometimes" complete my favorite songs.

The album is a good step/move for Angie and I'm happy for her. Sad to hear she lost her Father but she did come back strong to represent what he taught and told her in "I Don't Care".

This album will win her some new fans for sure as long as DJs play the album and don't assume its neo-soul. Those of us who have been with her since Black Diamond will appreciate and love the new direction. I have given this album 4 out of 5 because of the fact I have to skip "Tell Me" every time it comes up. Since this album dropped unexpectedly lets all spread the news about it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2010
Format: Audio CD
her 2007 release: PERFECT. This offering, not so much. Why did I only like 3 tracks? I played the previous cd until it scratched and I had to buy a new one...this situation and that tummy on the front cover....what was on her mind? I could have waited 2 more years to get the feel of her 2nd and 3rd albums...this one was a disappointment as a real fan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Let me preface this review by saying that I am definitely one of Angie's biggest and most loyal fans. I have all of her solo albums in heavy rotation and listen to my two favourites "Mahogany Soul" and "The Art of Love and War" at least a few times a week in the car. I love Angie's musical style - it's a throwback to 70's soul music and is real.

I thought the title of Angie's newest album "Unexpected" was appropriate considering that few people even knew it was coming. Where was the pre-release buzz? No marketing from the Stax record label? Nonetheless, I was excited to see the album drop and bought the CD right away.

After giving this a number of listens, I'm still a bit disappointed in the album as a whole. There are some great tracks that have that "throwback" feel like "I Ain't Hearing You", "Unexpected (interludes)", "Hey Mr DJ" - but the majority of these tracks sound like Angie is trying to fit in with the music that is all over the charts today. There's very little SOUL music on this album and the worst track on the album has got to be "Tell Me" - why oh why would Angie use auto-tune on a silky, rich voice like her own?

Overall, the album gets three stars from me. There are some smokin' tracks with cool beats but the album moves in too many directions. Next time around, I'd like to see Angie go back to making REAL soul music like she did on her first four albums. In the meantime, I'll continue to listen to select tracks on "Unexpected" - thanks, Angie!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I'm very sad for this cd, it's so disapointing comparing the oldest cd's from Angie. There no one song interesting, no emotion, no soul here.
But the worse part...the cover...speachless

Her best album "Stone love" by far
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2010
Format: Audio CD
This is a really sad effort intended to appeal to a broader (read younger) audience. When autotune appeared in one song I knew I was done. Gave the cd away. I love Angie Stone and can only hope she'll get back to doing what she does so well on the next album-----"real soul music".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Give the woman a break, she is one of the most soulfully talented (underrated) artists out there today. She can easily run circles around many of them! She sings with emotion, and thats hard to find today. How can you hear the song "Maybe" my absolute favorite, and not think of a time in your relationship that you were not sure what direction things were going? "can we work it out on "Maybe", thats classic. You can feel the emotions in that song, without it being over the top. The same is true for I ain't hearing you, old school vibe with a twist.

I am from the 60's, 70's and 80's era when we had the likes of Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, Teddy, Luther, when songs were written and sung with maturity by timeless artists. Songs that made you want to cry, laugh, sing, make love, get married, have babies, cook, clean, I could go on and on. Thats what I miss, but with the likes of Angie, Maxwell, Brian Mcknight, Sade, the list goes on, there is still hope :)

The girl is bad, period. Buy the CD or at least a few of her songs, and definitely buy some of her old songs if you are new to her, to get a true feel of who she is as an artist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Ms. Stone has once again mastered neo-soul with her rhythmic and melodic voice. The music is catchy and soothing and her voice is the icing on the cake. Ms. Stone's stylish yet unique blend of R&B and soul is pleasant to the ear and mind. 'Free' is on re-wind and the catchy tune just reels you in with the lightweight lyrics. "Maybe" and "Why Is It" are others that I really vibe to! Of course the collabo with Ron Isley is mos def 'that joint'. You can't go wrong with these two captivating talents...did I mention it was HOT!

Ms. Stone is an artist that is somehow overlooked, upon my first listen, I wasn't really digging the cd, but after a minute of listening while riding, I found myself responding instantaneously. Wonderint where my mind was...but I'll charge it to my head, because Ms. Angie has completed another great album! Superior work Ms. Stone!

'Unexpected' mos def has your blend of exemplary tracks and meaningful songs! Kudo's sista!
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