"Unaware," the self-titled album's closing song, was a deft choice to introduce the young singer to a much larger audience. What sounds like a smooth love song in the vein of Robin Thicke soon reveals itself as a biting commentary on our country's sad economic state. ("Papa said, 'Son, it's the land of the free,' as he broke his back trying to make ends meet," Stone sings.) He said he's tired of modern-day soul and R&B's monotony when it comes to topics.
"That's why I'm so hesitant to go to a label," Stone said. "I don't want to hear them say 'We need a love song.' I'm not opposed to writing love songs, but I need to be in love, not because I need to pay your salary, Mr. Executive."
After the "Conan" performance, the label talk predictably picked up.
"I'm slowly approaching the day where I'll go to a label," he said. "You need the big machine behind you at some point."
The key, he said, is building his fan base to the point where he'll have leverage in negotiations, which explains why he's touring with Jack's Mannequin, an act whose fan base doesn't naturally overlap with his.
The deal with a major label will probably come soon, but for now, Stone is concentrating on building his reputation as a live performer.
"I want to be known as somebody who can bring it to life, who isn't faking it in the studio," he said.
But back to that look of his, the aspect many can't resist commenting on. Stone could not care less (which he made clear in a much more colorful way), saying the obsession is unfortunately built into American culture.
"You get [artists] like Britney Spears and Katy Perry, and a lot of their fan bases are built on how they look, and it's extremely sad," Stone said.
Still, he takes the chatter about his looks in stride. It's the music that's gaining the fans, and that's what's most important to him.
"There's no delusion in my spirit about what I look like or who I am," he said. "I know I'm a white hippie kid from Seattle that sings soul music."
If you go
Allen Stone performs Sunday at the 8x10, 10 E. Cross St. Doors open at 7 p.m. $10. Call 410-625-2000 or go to the8x10.com.