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A Teenager From Devon With A Voice From Philadelphia
on 26 July 2005
As a young teenager, Joscelyn Stoker was rejected by many record companies, most of which said that there was no way that they would sign up a young white girl with the voice of a mature black woman. She then fell at the door of S-Curve Records boss Steve Greenberg who took a gamble with her. With a new name and her own unique style, Joss Stone exploded onto the popular and soul music scene with her own take on The White Stripes' Fell In Love With A Girl and more importantly, her debut album The Soul Sessions. Although the album received some praise, it was recorded in four days and contained mostly cover versions. For her second album, Joss Stone has had the chance to take her time and ensure that the album really displays her stunning musical talents.
Mind, Body & Soul starts off well but slightly deteriorates as the album progresses. The reason for this being that like so many other albums, all the singles have been placed at the start of the album leaving us with a very unbalanced set of music. The album in general displays varying styles and adaptations of popular and soul music and has a consistently strong set of songs throughout despite one. Right To Be Wrong and Spoiled are beautiful, mellow songs which show signs of being inspired by Aretha Franklin. Don't Cha Wanna Ride wavers towards the James Brown style of soul and despite its interpretation by the more perverted listener, has no metaphorical message whatsoever. Jet Lag, Security, Young At Heart and Killing Time are all entertaining songs that just don't quite top the ones mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, there also has to be a negative side to the album.
You Had Me is similar to Oasis' Roll With It and David Bowie's Rebel Rebel in that they weren't written to fit the style of the rest of the album, they were written to guarantee record sales and chart success. Based on that song alone, Joss Stone is just another in a long, long line of teenage pop stars chosen to make manufactured music more because of their sex appeal than their ability to sing. You Had Me is probably the biggest let-down of the album. The other strong negative factor is bizarrely the overuse of her voice. Joss Stone has a superb vocal ability which sounds fantastic in her songs but she doesn't need to make noises which sound more orgasmic than anything else at every available moment.
Fortunately, the album is not being judged on that one song alone and Mind, Body & Soul is an entertaining, groundbreaking recording that is a strong improvement on its predecessor. With any luck, Joss Stone will improve with age and come back with something even better next time round.