BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Like a lot of creative R&B musicians, Andre Cymone spent the first half of the ‘80s trying to out-Prince Prince, scoring a couple of minor hits (“Livin’ in the New Wave,” “The Dance Electric,” the latter of which was penned by the Purple One) along the way. With superstardom apparently out of reach, the Minneapolis native became a power behind the throne as a writer and producer, often for spouse Jody Watley.
Now, out of the blue, Cymone is back in the spotlight with The Stone. Anyone expecting a throwback to the synth-funk sound of his early years may be surprised by this record, with its emphasis on guitars, real drum kits and songs over grooves. “Radio” and the appropriately-titled “Rock and Roll” bash and crash, the one-track minded “Naked” gets greasy and the contemplative “One Day” and “It’s Alright” rest on beds of acoustic guitars. The romping “If Not For You” and dreamy “Mary Jane” dip deeply into ‘60s pop, while the self-empowering “Let Your Sun Shine” and “American Dream” work Cymone’s personal vision of heartland rock.
As a veteran songwriter and producer, Cymone knows his way around a catchy melody, and his measured singing conveys his ideas with a tone as personable as it is soulful. The Stone is no throwback to neo-retrofuturism, but a creative rebirth that works wonderfully.
DOWNLOAD: “If Not For You,” “It’s Alright,” “Radio”