AS a pastor's son growing up in the small town of Chewelah in Washington state, Allen Stone would be overcome with emotion whenever he sung along with the other parishioners.
Upon discovering Stevie Wonder's Innervisions and reaching manhood and leaving home, Stone rejected religion, which he described as a "monkey on my shoulders that kept me feeling guilty all the time".
However, his faith in the power of music remained unbroken.
"Some folk in those days would call it the holy spirit or god, but I think it's the communal expression of emotion in sync with other people," Allen says over Zoom from his home in Spokane in eastern Washington state.
"That's still the feeling I search for in music.
"I really do love writing songs, I love the craft of recording in a studio, but my love and my passion is getting in front of someone and singing and experiencing a moment in real time with other human beings through music.
"I learnt that in the church, and to this day it's what I'm searching for."
Stone's search for musical connection has taken the 36-year-old around the world performing his modern take on '60s and '70s soul and R&B.
On stage performing in front of his audience, he's striving for that same connection he felt in church.
"There are definitely moments when you've been out on the road for maybe longer than you should, and slept a little less than you should and maybe drank a little more than you should," he says.
"There's been moments when I'm not fully capable of being in that space, but when I'm doing it right, when all those stars align, it's essentially what I was experiencing growing up in service.
"It's an organised group of individuals coming together to forget what the world is like outside of those doors and to be present in the moment with a bunch of other people and interact in some emotional fruit salad."
Stone self-released his first two albums Last To Speak (2010) and Allen Stone (2011) before his honey-smooth vocal and faithful embrace of vintage soul caught fire.
Stone's curly blonde hair, shaggy beard and thick black-rimmed glasses ensured his image was almost as memorable as his stunning voice.
By 2015 the major labels came calling and Stone released the more modern and funk-inspired album, Radius, through Capitol Records.
Songs like American Privilege addressed political concerns and on Fake Future, Stone sung of his disinterest in computer-generated music with, "Rock stars pushing buttons, few actually play."
The album Building Better followed in 2019 - led by the singles Brown Eyed Lover and Consider Me - and saw Stone flirt with the pop world by appearing on American Idol and American Song Contest.
However, in 2021 Stone decided to shift away from the polished pop sound of Building Better by releasing the acoustic album, Apart, of his most loved material.
Some folk in those days would call it the holy spirit or god, but I think it's the communal expression of emotion in sync with other people.- Allen Stone
"The colours I've painted with over the years have changed and the accompaniment I've had over the years has changed and the producers and songwriters I've worked with," he says.
"So naturally those influences get infused with the space.
"The one thing that hasn't changed, as far as the tradition or fundamentals of the music, is live musicianship.
"Whatever you're hearing on stage is what's being played on stage. That's where my tradition sticks to that lineage.
"We're not using backing tracks, we're not using anything other than those traditional instruments or elements that all our forefathers or the Mount Rushmore of music used back in the day."
Stone's upcoming return to Australia will feature just acoustic guitar and that soulful voice.
The Off The Beaten Path tour opens at King Street on December 6 in Stone's first Newcastle show. However, Stone's been a regular visitor to Australia since his life-changing first tour in 2014.
On the first night of that tour he and his band where shown around Melbourne by tour manager, Matty Woo (Dune Rats, Beautiful Girls), who introduced Stone to jewellery maker Tara Lawson.
Stone and Lawson hit it off and married in 2019 at Lorne in Victoria and have since welcomed two boys.
The family will spend Christmas in Melbourne and Lorne enjoying a break from Spokane's freezing winter.
"My two young boys get to see their cousins, and we're just gonna soak up the family time while we can," he says.
Following the tour, Stone plans to begin tracking his next batch of songs in January, for what he hopes will be a "classic soul record."
Allen Stone plays at King Street Bandroom on December 6.