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Next: Allen Stone
Every week, World Cafe recommends a new artist on the rise.

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Allen Stone's smooth voice plays well against the sometimes curiously synthetic beats that characterize his songs. The soul and R&B singer hails from outside Spokane, Wash., where he began his singing career as part of his church choir. After stints in community college and Bible school, Stone brought his talents to bear with his debut album Last to Speak in 2010. The self-proclaimed hippie crafts his songs with socially conscious lyrics, and his commentary on topics ranging from the economic crisis to technological dependence is wittily pertinent.

Stone's new self-titled album plays on his soul and R&B roots but updates the genres with a modern edge. At just 25, Stone is still developing his musical style — this is especially apparent in "What I've Seen," which offers a refreshing take on R&B. In "Say So," he remains true to his church choir origins while injecting his uniquely beautiful brand of soulful excitement. Allen Stone reached the top five of iTunes' R&B/Soul charts before he signed with ATO Records, which will re-release the album for a wider audience. Hear him in this installment of World Cafe: Next or on the North American tour that includes a Sept. 24 stop at Philadelphia's World Cafe Live and don't forget to grab your free download of "Contact High" from the new album.

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