Typically, artists dispense with introductions after their debut -- after all, that is an album designed to introduce them to the world -- but neo-soul singer Joss Stone defiantly titled her third album Introducing Joss Stone, thereby dismissing her first two relatively acclaimed albums with one smooth stroke. She now claims that those records ...
Typically, artists dispense with introductions after their debut -- after all, that is an album designed to introduce them to the world -- but neo-soul singer Joss Stone defiantly titled her third album Introducing Joss Stone, thereby dismissing her first two relatively acclaimed albums with one smooth stroke. She now claims that those records were made under record-label pressure -- neatly contradicting the party line that her debut, The Soul Sessions, turned into a retro-soul project after Joss implored her label to ditch the Christina Aguilera-styled urban-pop she was pursuing -- but now as a young adult of 19, she's free to pursue her muse in her own fashion. All this is back-story to Introducing, but Stone makes her modern metamorphosis plain on the album's very first track, where football-star-turned-Hollywood-muscle Vinnie Jones talks about change ("I see change, I embody change, all we do is change, yeah, I know change, we're born to change" and so on and so forth), setting the stage for some surprise -- which "Girl They Won't Believe It" kind of delivers, if only because it isn't all that different from what Stone has done before. It's a sprightly slice of Northern soul propelled by a bouncy Motown beat that doesn't suggest a change in direction as much as a slight shift in aesthetic. Gone are the seasoned studio pros, in are a bevy of big-name producers all united in a mission to make Stone seem a little less like a '60s blue-eyed soul diva and a little more her age, a little more like a modern girl in 2007. So, the professional in-the-pocket grooves have been replaced by drum loops, the warm burnished sound has been ditched in favor of crisp, bright sonics, Harlan Howard covers have been pushed aside for cameos by Common and Lauryn Hill. It's a cosmetic change that works: Introducing does sound brighter, fresher than her other two albums, pitched partway between Amy Winehouse and Back to Basics Christina yet sounding very much like Texas at their prime. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
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