Release Date: Mar 20, 2007
Record label: Virgin
Genre(s): R&B, Soul
Review Summary: Funky, fresh, and forward, Joss Stone delivers an excellent third effort that finds this gifted vocalist stepping out just enough to make a big difference in her young career. Sounding great and building on her vast potential its a winner from note one.A success story from the start in her home country of England and to some extent on the U.S. R&B charts (her last album even hit #11 on the pop chart), teenage soul sensation Joss Stone has set her sights on coming out anew for her third release "Introducing Joss Stone".
This is Joss Stone’s third CD release in less than four years — so why that ”Introducing” in the title? The 19-year-old British soul belter is making a statement about getting out from under the thumb of her label Svengalis, who presumably have been stifling the poor girl’s muse. The 2007-model Joss — the one she considers to be the real Joss — has a vampy new image (behold the shocking pink hair!) and, more notably, a new mentor, producer, and neo-soul stalwart, Raphael Saadiq (the Roots, Common). He brings a strong focus to Introducing Joss Stone, blending the digital crispness of modern R&B with Stone’s preferred flavors of retro: swooping Motown-style strings, girl-group background vocals, gutbucket soul guitar.
Even her most devoted fan would find it hard to deny that the promotional campaign for Joss Stone's third album has got off to a shaky start. Turning up at the Brits and delivering a slightly rambling speech in a faux-American accent barely registers on the Richter scale of rock star nutterdom, but it was enough to send the British media into a righteous spin. Within 48 hours, the Sun had tactfully suggested Stone take her accent back to America permanently, while Channel 5's The Wright Stuff was hosting a live debate on her "fakeness", presided over by a panel of carefully-chosen experts that included the presenter of Masterchef Goes Large.
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 blathers on nonsensically 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.