The Art of Love and War marks the first album in three years from soul singer and songwriter, Angie Stone. Her fourth musical effort after 2004’s Stone Love, The Art returns Stone to the musical scene with her signature neo-soul sound and a new attitude. After battling health problems and a stint on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club, Love & War serves as a testament to her evolution as an artist.
Released on the legendary Stax Records, (which has been re-launched) the home of 70’s soul greats such as Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, and Wilson Pickett, this album certainly reflects its roots. Though not as heavily ridden with funk beats as her previous work, The Art emanates a soulful resonance of its celebrated predecessors.
Stone teams up with long-time friend and legendary soul singer Betty Wright on the album’s lead single “Baby,” which samples Curtis Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love (Love Song),” and it is truly the album’s standout track.
The album’s opener, “Take Everything In,” is a surprising mix of social commentary and spirituality. Listeners will find her lyrics refreshing, as it’s a side of Angie Stone that has never been heard before outside of songs of devotion and lost love. She continues this on “My People,” which features another soul legend James Ingram and features an upbeat, inspirational rhythm as she laments the current state of Black America. But primarily, it is meant to uplift the community.
“Play Wit’ It” is one of the few up-tempo songs on the album; it is a playful song boasting horns reminiscent of Earth, Wind, and Fire. However, some of the lyrics are a bit childish. Lyrically, this song is the weakest on the album. It seems when she veers from the “grown folks music” territory, she falters.
“Go Back To Your Life” is a pleasant interlude sung a capella by Stone, which showcases her raspy vocal tones; Stone delivers every single harmony on this cut showing off her range, and harkening back to harmonies of girl groups of the old days.
Angie Stone does what she does best on this album, and that is deliver good music-Angie Stone doesn’t make music for teenyboppers who want to hear about material things, nor does she make club anthems. Stone stays in her lane, creating a wonderful combination of new & classic soul sounds.