Material: Assigning a genre to Tangina Stone’s music might be somewhat limiting, as she exists in the cracks between several. Under the umbrella of R&B/pop, the various colors in her voice suggest jazz as well as blues. The songs alternate between straight- ahead ballads and ‘90s-inspired R&B.
In “Cops” (a sort of rant with a marcato rhythm and a domestic violence storyline) there is plenty of attitude, but it falls short in conveying the seriousness of its subject matter. Learning only that the victim is drowning in this tumultuous relationship while pitted against an unstable partner, you can’t help but long for more detail about what culminated in her partner’s arrest. The line, “I called the cops,” repeats numerous times and should really be the title of the song.
In “Suntan,” a lovely sensual ballad with plenty of imagery, you are drawn into its lilting mood and beckoning visuals: “Your love is so bright you’re giving me a suntan. I just want to soak up the sun and you might just be the right one.” In this instance, Stone demonstrates her gift for melody and endearing emotion.
Musicianship: This singer’s appealing and supportive backing trio provided a foundation that complemented the nuances in her voice, which is somewhat stylized but reads very naturally. There is no over-singing and no gratuitous vocal embellishing. Keyboardist Thomas Senatore alternated on keys and guitar, which allowed for more sonic complexity when needed. Walker, normally the band’s official bass player, pitched in on guitar as well and put the finishing touches on the ensemble’s fully acoustic sound.
Performance: Stone seemed relatively at ease and displayed an obvious connection with her band mates. They were well rehearsed, which freed up room for between-song banter as well as some humor. She was chatty with the audience; however, at times she introduced a song with a brief synopsis of its storyline, which tended to lessen its emotional impact. A backstory as to what inspired the song (or some related anecdote) would allow the artist to save her emoting for the performance itself.
Summary: Possessing an innate musicality, Tangina Stone has a sound and style that is easy on the ears. To her credit she doesn’t push vocally or rely on pyrotechnics to get a song across. Improvements are needed, however—namely, refraining from giving away a song’s story before performing it—and she is urged to bring her songcraft up to the level of her fine vocal talents.
Players: Tangina Stone, lead vocals; Thomas Senatore, guitar, keys; Blake Walker, guitar; Nick Senatore, djembe drums.
Venue: Rockwood Music Hall
City: New York. NY