On the cover of her debut, The Soul Sessions, Joss Stone's face is obscured by a vintage microphone, a deliberate move that emphasized the retro-soul vibe of the LP while hiding the youthful face that would have given away that Stone was a mere 16 years old at the time of the album's release. The point was to put the music before the image and it worked, selling the album to an older audience that might have stayed away, thinking that the teenager sang teen pop. If the debut was designed to give Stone credibility, her second album, Mind, Body & Soul, delivered almost exactly a year after its predecessor, is designed to make her a superstar, broadening her appeal without losing sight of the smooth, funky, stylish soul at the core of her sound.
Everyone involved in making Joss Stone's second album, not least Stone herself, seems to have forgotten that, however precocious, she's still only 17. The bias toward meaty soul ballads requires more of her than she can give - consider the irony of having whisky-drenched torch songs sung by an artist who legally is still on orange squash. Her guts must be applauded, anyway, as must her ripening voice, which is foxier than on the Mercury-nominated Soul Sessions.