Singer and songwriter Allen Stone describe himself as “a hippie with soul,” and his music reflects both sides of this formula. His vocals and melodic style show the clear influence of classic soul and R&B of the ’60s and ’70s, while his lyrics reveal an idealism and passion that recall the folk-inspired singer/songwriters of the same era. It’s a combination that helped his independently produced debut album, 2011’s Allen Stone, crack the Top 40 of Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Stone further honed his style, adopting a mix of contemporary and ’90s R&B influences on 2015’s Radius and 2019’s Building Balance, before reworking songs from his catalog on his stripped-down 2021 acoustic album, APART.
Allen Stone was born in 1987 in Chewelah, Washington, a small town not far from Spokane. Stone’s mother was an obstetrician and his father was the pastor of a local church; he grew up on gospel and Christian music and began leading youth worship groups when he was only 14. He had little exposure to secular music as a child, but in his teens, he developed a taste for classic soul, and started collecting vintage R&B sides, as well as golden age singer/songwriters. After graduating from high school, 18-year-old Stone left Chewelah to attend junior college in Spokane; a year later, he transferred to Bible college, but after a single semester he dropped out and relocated to Seattle. He began writing songs, and soon put together a band with a handful of local musicians. Stone and his group became a regular presence on the West Coast club scene and developed a reputation for powerful live shows as they played up to 200 dates a year. In 2010, Stone recorded an album called Last to Speak that he released digitally through his own Stickystones label.
A second album, simply titled Allen Stone, followed in the fall of 2011, and quickly became an independent success story. Online sales took the album to the top of the online charts, and the album placed on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart, all without a formal distribution deal. As Stone and his band played more and bigger shows, they were invited to appear on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Last Call with Carson Daly. Features on Stone were also published in Esquire and Billboard.
The artist-friendly ATO Records label signed Stone in 2012 and reissued his eponymous album in the summer of that year. He then signed to the Capitol label and worked extensively with fellow singer and songwriter Tingsek. The result, Radius, featuring the single “Perfect World,” was released in May 2015. The album peaked at number 80 on the Billboard 200 Chart. A year later, Stone delivered a deluxe version of the album featuring seven additional tracks. In 2018, he released the single “Brown Eyed Lover” and appeared on American Idol singing a duet version of his original song “Unaware” with contestant Dennis Lorenzo. “Brown Eyed Lover” also served as the lead-off track to his fourth full-length album, 2019’s Building Balance. Co-produced with Jamie Lidell, the album found Stone embracing a mix of ’70s soul and ’90s New Jack Swing-influenced sounds. With 2021’s APART, Stone released his first-ever all-acoustic album, revisiting some of his favorite songs culled from his past work. Produced by Ryan Hadlock, the album featured a duet with Alessia Cara on his song “Bed I Made.