Allen Stone has debuted his new song “Give You Blue,” premiering exclusively via Billboard today (Oct. 22).
The heartwarming track, deemed a love letter to his wife, is the R&B singer’s third single off his upcoming album Building Balance.
Written with Mike Posner immediately after proposing to his wife, “Give You Blue” was inspired by the transience of the color blue and the reality of love while on the road as a musician.
“Blue feels like a very beautiful color to me — light and uplifting, but in music it’s typically utilized as an extremely dark, downward emotion,” Stone tells Billboard.
Stone spent days writing, meditating, and swimming in the ocean with Posner, and one night wrote the line “I can’t stop the rain, but I will keep you dry.” After finishing the rest of the lyrics, he discovered “Give You Blue” to be exactly the message he felt he needed to convey to his wife: “I don’t think there ever is this fairy tale existence in marriage. The love that I have for you and the love that we will share is not going to be one of perfection. You’re going to mess up. I’m going to mess up. But it’s going to be one that I promise is going to be persistent.”
He later shared the sentiment with his wife at their wedding, when he sang it to her in front of their close friends and family.
“Besides the day my son was born, it was easily the best day of my life,” the 32-year-old says.
This love letter was eventually chosen as one of the 14 tracks to be included on Stone’s upcoming record Building Balance, out Nov. 8 via ATO Records. As his first collection of songs to be released in over four years, he made sure the time spent in between albums was used to create meaningful experiences for himself and to grow as a musician.
“This record has been a wonderful evolution not only of my music and in the comfort and security of who I am, but also it’s a testament to the security I feel working with others,” he says. “I went through a point in my musical career when I didn’t trust anybody. I’ve been screwed over by managers, and it was through the process of putting this record together that I think a lot of those walls were taken down.”
Combined with the experience of having a child, which Stone likens to “tossing a beautiful mist of freshness onto my life salad,” Stone finally felt ready to share his new art — dedicated to his wife and newborn son.
As Stone embarks on his fall 2019 Karaoke Extravaganza North American tour, where every night he pulls 15 fans onstage to perform their choice karaoke song, he chatted with Billboard about writing about love, his musical inspirations, and the decision to make his fans an integral part of his shows. Scroll to the end to check out Stone’s tour dates.
What was it like being so vulnerable about love while creating this record?
The last ten years of my life I would always shy away from writing about love. R&B music is my passion and my number one love. I’ve always felt like all R&B songs were just love songs, sex songs, or club songs. And I was always really passionate about writing songs that had R&B and funk and soul that talked about other things — mental health, technology, depression, social and political situations. It wasn’t until this new horizon of Building Balance that I felt comfortable to write from a bunch of different places. Not only funk and soul, but also hip-hop and a little call out to country, blues. I was comfortable with exploring and writing songs that maybe landed a little bit farther outside of the real estate that I’m used to writing in. I finally felt comfortable writing about love because it was so real to me through this process. I’ve been with my wife for a while, but having the nerve to commit to a marriage and a relationship in a ever tumultuous situation of traveling all the time helped me connect to what I sing.
Why did you decide on the name Building Balance?
I wrote a song [that did not make it] for the record called “Building Balance.” It was originally a song called “The Ballad of Ricky Lake,” because I have an English Bulldog named Ricky Lake. That song changed and then one night in the studio with Jamie Lidell, I started writing about building balance. I think that “building balance” really summarizes my whole experience for the last ten years of my musical career. “Building” seems to me like a neverending verb, and “balance” is this thing that almost feels like a sedentary state. Whether it’s spirituality, whether it’s my personal perspective, whether it’s my relationship with my wife or being a new dad, it’s an everyday consistent movement forward. My last record Radius was really about trying to find my center, and this record is an homage to the journey that you’re on. Attempting to push that rock up the hill, that’s the journey of life.
Who were you listening to while creating this album?
I was really going through a phase of mid-’90s hip-hop — De La Soul and Q-Tip. I was listening to a lot of folk. Madison Cunningham, who to me is a new expression of Joni Mitchell and all the greatest things of the ’60s and ’70s singer-songwriter era. I’m usually cutting the classics, which is Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, but I ventured out of that quite a bit.
What do you hope listeners get out of Building Balance?
Freedom. Anytime I create music, I just want people to have an experience with it, and hopefully that experience can give them a new perspective on their own experiences. I played a show last night, and a guy came up to me and said, “Man, I just want to thank you. Your song ‘Celebrate Tonight’ was the first time that I ever connected with my adopted daughter. It was through that song that she accepted me and we really started to connect.” That right there makes it all worth it. I hope that the art that I create can give people a safety and homebase away from the reality of the world.
How did you come up with the idea for your karaoke tour?
I grew up in a really small town with one stoplight and no live music venues. When I first moved to Seattle, my best friend and I didn’t know where to go to let people hear our songs. So, we went to karaoke. We would go out every night for years. Anyone who’s really gotten into karaoke understands how much fun it can be and how powerful a really good pop song can be. For years, I’ve had this idea of instead of me just singing at my audience, why can’t we sing with them? We just did the first two shows in Spokane, Washington and it was so much fun. People sign up and sing [artists] from Lizzo to John Denver, to Jim Croce to Tower of Power. It’s designed to be a celebration not only of my record and the release of it, but of my fan base and their support. They [the fans] get to live out their dream of singing on stage and I get to live out my dream of doing karaoke every single night for a month. It’s a win-win.
ALLEN STONE NORTH AMERICAN KARAOKE TOUR FALL 2019
10.23 – Saint Paul, MN – Turf Club
10.24 – Evanston, IL – SPACE
10.25 – Indianapolis, IN – Hi-Fi Indy
10.27 – Washington, DC – City Winery
10.29 – New York, NY – The Cutting Room
10.30 – New York, NY – Manderley Bar at The McKittrick Hotel
10.31 – Philadelphia, PA – City Winery
11.01 – Boston, MA – City Winery
11.03 – Toronto, ON – Adelaide Hall
11.09 – Nashville, TN – Analog
11.11 – Denver, CO – The Soiled Dove Underground
11.12 – Dallas, TX – House of Blues (Cambridge Room)
11.13 – Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy Theatre
11.15 – Seattle, WA – Triple Door
11.16 – Portland, OR – The Jack London Revue