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Angie Stone: Rich Girl 

Saguaro Road Records

Following recent strained contemporary releases receiving mixed critical and cool-but-no-cigar commercial reception, Stone goes back to basics with a project that is squarely neo-soul and traditional R&B. Now 50, a still saucy Stone proves a credible heir to Betty Wright, co-penning no-nonsense relationship and intimacy tales set to bumping rhythms, mid-tempo funk, and light gospel flourishes. A handful rise above the project's musically sound but uninspired fare, including the toe-tapping "Do What U Gotta Do," the anthemic holler-fest "Sisters" (featuring Tweet and Y'Anna Crawley, among others), the retro-soul of "Guilty," and the self-empowered "Proud of Me." Rich in melody and live instrumentation, if not originality, the around-the-way girl safely delivers. (3 out of 5 stars)

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