Every subject has it’s expert. It would be hard to not designate Washington state native Allen Stone one of these pillars of expertise after his newest album Apart. An album stripping back many of his favorites, it showcases the root of what’s pushed Allen higher than many others, his voice.
The Fine Line was witness to his MasterClass last night right from the start. No openers, no frills, just a singer taking a stage and emptying his bag of tricks. “Look Outside” started the evening by Allen giving a lesson in how to pull in an audience. He spent the song making eye contact all along the front, back and forth.
It was his “Give You Blue” song that continued the class with a session on vibrato. His channeled voice waving tight in the song and rousing the venue. “Circle” was a section on singalongs, digging back to this older favorite to engage lure the crowd to join him.
Allen then pivoted to a brand new song called “On the Way Down” written about his son and about being a father. This lesson on parenthood was a lyrical example of Allen’s ability to write poetically about songs in the key of life. “Brown Eyed Lover” then deepened the class with a lesson in baritone singing. Allen dipped down into a blend of “Michael McDonald, Cher, and the Arby’s guy” for a humorous ending to the song.
Other side lessons of Allen’s MasterClass involved one on romance with “Is This Love” and a Stevie Wonder cover “All I Do.” Allen impersonating his musical hero is criminal. Closing your eyes, it’s hard to not hear Stevie onstage, as Allen perpetrates identity theft.
His teachings on covers continued with a powerful Aretha Franklin “I Say a Little Prayer” rendition. It’s this skill of well known song and making it his own that gives Allen an ability that stands apart.
Allen’s confidence of the stage and laid back chill translated well to a the crowd, who attentively listened while still finding moments to hoot and cheer him on. For anyone that’s watching solo musicians, it can be hard to stay interested for more than 5 songs. Allen’s charisma and charming backup singers kept the attention throughout.
Our final lesson came with bringing his backup singers out one more time at the end for “Bed I Made.” He let the audience sing the first couple lines, book-ending that stage presence from the start. Ending at almost exactly 90 minutes, Allen’s class on vocal performance is the perfect tour to catch if you’re needing direction.