I can't recall an artist so committed to making their Tiny Desk concert memorable. I'd met with Allen Stone weeks prior to go over priorities, expectations and the usual formalities, but this was different. His questions about how to prepare for the Tiny Desk signaled to me that he held this platform in the highest regard and that this wasn't just any appearance.
The Washington state native has a voice that we simply don't come across often. The old saying goes, "He could sing the phone book and make it sound good." His three graceful background singers and piano player provided the perfect compliment, but this set proved undoubtedly that his voice belongs right up front. He's been releasing music for more than a decade and touring the world, but last year's Building Balance is his best yet and he graced the desk with some of my favorites from the LP.
Before he rolled into a trilogy of Building Balance songs dedicated to his wife (who he said he's "face first in love" with), the set opened with the jarring "American Privilege," which addresses his internal guilt about everything from materialism to being born white. Between songs, he couldn't contain his affinity for the Tiny Desk and his appreciation for the moment. "It's a breath of fresh air for me that this is the way people want to hear music."
- "American Privilege"
- "Give You Blue"
- "Brown Eyed Lover"
- "Consider Me"
Allen Stone: vocals, guitar; Michael Elson: piano; Jessica Childress: vocals; Moorea Masa: vocals; Raquel Rodriguez: vocals
Producers: Bobby Carter, Morgan Noelle Smith, Maia Stern; Creative director: Bob Boilen; Audio engineers: Josh Rogosin, James Willetts; Videographers: Maia Stern, CJ Riculan, Bronson Arcuri; Production Assistant: Shanti Hands; Executive producer: Lauren Onkey; VP, programming: Anya Grundmann; Photo: Max Posner/NPR