Joss Stone surprised us all with her deep soulful voice, reminiscent of Aretha Franklin. Who would have thought that a voice like that would come from a little white English girl? Still, her debut release “The Soul Sessions” won the hearts of hip-hop and R&B fans. “The Soul Sessions” was a collection of cover tracks that even got the seal of approval by ?uestlove from The Roots. Even rock fans loved her rendition of “Fell In Love With A Boy”, which is her version of “Fell In Love With A Girl” by The White Stripes. In 2004, Joss Stone returns with an album of original material “Mind, Body & Soul”. With the help of ?uestlove (of The Roots), Commissioner Gordon, Salaam Remi and others, “Mind, Body & Soul” is not a typical R&B album. There are no cheesy samples or weak electronic beats. The LP has an organic feel achieved by live instrumentation. As an LP, “Mind, Body & Soul” may not be as instantly catchy as “The Soul Sessions”, it is still an LP Joss Stone should be proud of and one that fans could embrace.
“Mind, Body & Soul” is an LP that grows on the listener and includes classic sounding melodies. The creeping organ in the opening track “Right To Be Wrong” works perfectly with her soulful voice. It is evident than Joss has lyrically and personally matured. Joss sings, “…I’ve got a right to be wrong / My mistakes will make me strong / I’m stepping out into the great unknown / I’m feeling wings though I’ve never flown…” The song becomes a soulful masterpiece. “Understand” is a beautiful song that begins with Joss confidently singing over a lonely guitar. Romantic and poignant, Joss displays an honest vulnerability that many R&B singers never accomplish to display. “Young At Heart” is a tale of young lovers who are fighting older friends and family who think their relationship will not last. “Less Is More” is a humorous song about a lover who is suffocating the narrator and not giving her breathing room. The final song, “Sleep Like A Child” is an ephemeral track, where her voice perfectly fits the atmosphere of the music. Joss sings, “…Tonight when the darkness comes / Why don’t we treat it like a friend? / Then we’ll both be glad to see the night / And we’ll be hoping it’s never going to end…” With ?uestlove on the drums, “Sleep Like A Child” is a magnificent way to close the LP. “Jetlag”, “Snakes & Ladders”, “Torn & Tattered”, and “Spoiled” are other incredible tracks.
Unfortunately, “Mind, Body & Soul” has some commercial sounding tracks that blatantly sound somewhat like a hollow attempt to sell records. The single “You Had Me” is energetic but reminiscent of all the other teenage pop anthems. The song is truly not a good representation of the LP. “Don’t Cha Wanna Ride” is an over-produced and somewhat unimportant song about a car. When sandwiched between songs about love, passion, and relationship problems, a song about a car just does not fit. Joss Stone sings, “…I know you got the Hummer for the summer, baby / But I got your number, baby….” The sample of “Soulful Strut” by Young-Holt Unlimited makes the song sound even more like a blatant attempt at commercial appeal. The chorus gets even worse. Joss sings the hook, “…A car this fine don’t pass your way – every day / Don’t cha wanna ride, baby?…”. Compared to the other wonderful songs on the album, “Don’t Cha Wanna Ride” just feels so out of place.
“Mind, Body & Soul” is a solid achievement by Joss Stone. She proved that she can carry an album of original material. Lyrically, Joss Stone is not extremely intellectual or clever. Still, the beauty behind her music is her voice and the emotion she conveys to fuel her voice. Besides the one or two blatant commercial tracks, another problem with the LP is that many of the songs sound the same and it takes multiple listens to truly appreciate the different tracks. It is still early in Joss Stone’s career but she is much deeper than the typical teenage singer and her soulful style is not just a novelty. This reviewer expects great things from her. She has the potential to be one of the great contemporary singers of our time. Her first collection of original works, Joss Stone’s “Mind, Body & Soul” truly does have something for the listener’s mind, body, and soul.