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Allen Stone | Building Balance

The hippie soulman's fourth disc continues to mix classic styles with pop songcraft.

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WHO IS HE? The least likely soul singer in existence — a white, blonde-tressed hippie who is also a minister’s kid from rural Washington State and got his start singing in church.

WHAT IS THIS? His fourth studio album and a more personal, romantic outing than his topical 2015 release Radius. Fun fact: When I interviewed the personable artist a few years back, he said he was torn between making another socially conscious album or doing something more escapist. He clearly opted for the latter.

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? A seamless combination of old-school soul/R&B and contemporary pop songcraft. That’s pretty much been Stone’s stock in trade since Day 1, but on this 14-track set, he does it with the expertise of an artist who’s finally hitting his stride.

WHAT SHOULD IT BE TITLED? Fourth Time’s The Charm. Or maybe Nice Guys Don’t Always Finish Last.

HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? With appreciation for his commitment to using live instruments instead of programming, thereby giving these songs an earthier and more authentic feel.

WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Groovy, grounded, sincere, sweet, friendly, organic, thoughtful, celebratory, optimistic, outgoing.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? The soul-rocker Brown Eyed Lover, the funky Back to the Swing, the slinky Taste of You, the high-stepping Chippin’ Away.

WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS SAY? ‘For a guy who really has no right to be a soul singer, he does a pretty fair job of it.’

HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? At least a few times.

IF THIS ALBUM WERE AN ASTROLOGY SIGN, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Gemini, for Allen’s split-personality approach.

SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? Try the stream and decide whether you want to build from there.