The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Joss Stone gives powerful Introduction

It was four years ago when I began to hear buzz about a soulful young Brit named Joss Stone. Bursting on the scene with “The Soul Sessions,” an album full of old soul covers cosigned by soul greats like Betty Wright, she was quickly labeled the next big thing. So I anxiously listened and thought it was…okay. She had a great voice, but there was something missing.

The second album, “Mind, Body & Soul,” left me with a similar feeling. You can’t deny her voice is powerful, and it was original material, but it was still lacking.

Now I’m eating my words after listening to her new album, “Introducing Joss Stone.” I usually hate it when artists do the customary, this-is-the-real-me album, but every once in a while it works. This is one of those occasions.

Combining forces with singer/songwriter/producer Raphael Saadiq (Mary J Blige, Erykah Badu, Kelis), Stone has put together a collection of songs that are soulful but current.

The album opens with “Girl They Won’t Believe It,” a track that finds her working in the girl-group motif. Held down by driving percussion and a perpetually moving bass line, the track thumps into a soulful abyss. Her vocals are stellar as she playfully interacts with her background singers on the tune about finding a new love.

The first single, “Tell Me Bout It,” is another foray into ’70s soul. I’ll admit that it didn’t fully capture my attention upon the first listen. However, within the context of the album it works really well. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but it has grown on me.

The album really has its stellar moments in the second half, one of which is the tune, “Arms of My Baby.” Saadiq practically channels The Funk Brothers (think “Standing in the Shadows of Love”) with his production. It’s heavily percussive and full of little musical nuances that are nothing less than magnificent. Stone sounds both angelic and brooding as she sings about reuniting with her love. From the haunting organs to the whirlwind-like string flourishes, everything about this track just oozes soul.

Another one of the album’s great moments is on the emotionally charged, “What Were We Thinking.” This is the type of classic soul ballad you’d expect to hear from Otis Redding or Aretha Franklin. Stone seems to almost be crying as she sings, “I’m a brand myself the fool/’Cause I fell in love with you.” It’s the perfect vehicle to show the power of her voice. She shows restraint as she builds toward a climax that lets her belt out at the right time. Her peers could learn a lot from her in this department, because my usual problem with R&B singers is the tendency to start belting right out the gate (i.e. Fantasia) instead of building up to it.

The album also features production from Novel, a verse from Common and a rare appearance from the reclusive Lauryn Hill.

A lot of focus is being placed on Stone’s new look and current relationship with collaborator, Saadiq. Personally, I couldn’t care less about either. The fact is these two put together one hell of an album. If this is the Joss Stone that we’re going to be hearing from this point on, then she can officially count me as a fan.

Stone’s album, “Introducing Joss Stone,” is available today.

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