Mahogany Soul

On her second album—and first for J Records—a more confident Stone polishes the promise delivered on 1999's Black Diamond to an eye-squinting gleam.

On her second album—and first for J Records—a more confident Stone polishes the promise delivered on 1999's Black Diamond to an eye-squinting gleam. Stronger musically and lyrically, Mahogany Soul oozes with heart-warming energy that's simultaneously contemporary and old-school. Stone once again rolls her gospel-honed vocals around real-life issues and emotion-filled lyrics. That combination hits home most notably on lead single "Brotha." Reach deeper into this 17-track set and you'll come out with a winner every time, be it about love ("More Than a Woman"), life dramas ("Mad Issues," "If It Wasn't"), or a warning that the overloaded new-soul boat is going to sink ("Soul Insurance"). In the words of Curtis Mayfield (whose "The Makings of You" gets the Stone treatment), the woman's got soul. And with this album, she deserves to become a household name. Come on, everybody—let's go get stoned!—GM