"It's that time of the month/Don't even mess with me," brays Angie Stone as her second CD, Mahogany Stone
, barrels to a close. She's talkin' about bills
, people. Smoothed-out neo-soul is the way to pay those bills these days, and Stone leaps Afro-first into the boxing ring with the Sades and Jill Scotts and India.Aries of the world, and capably holds her own. The sound sneaks as far from conventional hip-hop as possible -- Stone fancies herself more of a female Al Green, milking that retro vibe for every last slo-jam. She's regal, well-mannered, show-offy. She's emotionally distant, too. Even when she's singin' a tune called "Pissed Off," she sounds calm and unfazed. Like Hannibal Lecter, her blood pressure never rises. Never.
All this makes Mahogany Soul as smooth and slick as porcelain, though it lacks the multitalented woman-to-woman touch that makes Jill Scott the current queen of this castle. But Stone's got her sound all picked out, and prancing about on tour with a top-shelf loverman like Maxwell can only steel her resolve to hunt down A Love Supreme.