|Joss Stone: "Mind, Body, & Soul"
by Mike Heyliger
Those that missed Joss Stone's “Soul
Sessions” EP last year missed the coming-
out party for one of the most soulful
teenage vocalists around. Joined by a who's
who of Southern soul (Betty Wright, Timmy
Thomas, Little Beaver), the British vocalist's
set seeped with soul, leaving folks in
wonder as to how a teenage British girl
could release an album of 70s soul classics
and make it sound so good.
A year later, Stone returns with her first proper album, “Mind, Body &
Soul”. While there are definitely more contemporary touches to this
album, Stone (again joined by Wright in the producer's chair) doesn't
deviate far from the formula that made “Soul Sessions” a commercial
and critical success. Thankfully, there are no guest rappers, and
almost all the music is played live with a band. The fact that Joss co-
wrote most of thje album's material means that she can now give the
songs that extra “oomph” of experience whereas she occasionally
sounded out of her league with the decidedly adult lyrics on her EP.
Lead single “You Had Me” is a peppy bop of a jam that's probably the
most tailor made for the radio, but there are plenty of other tracks
here that will have true soul lovers swooning. “Jet Lag” is a chilled-
out midtempo jam where Joss folds herself around the melody in
feline fashion, while “Security” finds her in power ballad territory. The
lyrics about everlasting friendship are given a thorough rendering by
Joss, even as she falls victim to musical cliché by bringing in the guitar
solo as well a the gospel choir for the song's final chorus.
The upbeat “Dont'cha Wanna Ride” is a funky little jam bolstered by a
sample of The Young Holt Unlimited's "Soulful Strut", while the
album's highlight, “Less is More” finds Joss navigating a bottom-
heavy dub reggae beat. It's by far the album's best track, and makes
one wonder if Joss should maybe go a little further in that direction
on her next album.
Blessed with an amazing voice and good looks, Joss has what it
takes to carve a niche for herself in the music world despite a sound
that isn't particularly in line with what Top 40 and urban radio are
playing. It's hard to think of a 17-year old making “grown folks'
music”, but that's exactly what “Mind, Body & Soul” is: a mature effort
that will resonate with fans of classic soul more than it will the fans
who are still chasing after the Ciaras and Ashantis of the world.