Joss Stone Introducing Joss Stone

On her third CD, 21-year-old Brit Joss Stone has stated that it’s the first one to represent her not only as a musician but more importantly, as a person. Stone wrote all the songs but one and their subjects reflect the thoughts of a young woman who’s grown up in the public eye while on the road. As a songwriter, she’s no Amy Winehouse, sticking to tried and true themes of love, lust and loss, but there’re no embarrassing moments either. On a new label, Virgin, and collaborating with a new producer, Raphael Saadiq (who’s worked with D’Angelo and the Roots, amongst many others), Introducing Joss Stone continues the success of previous recordings, placing Stone’s supple vocals front and centre. Happily, Stone uses none of the terrible vocal affectations that plague recordings by Beyonce, Christina Aguilera and just about every American contemporary soul singer. What has changed is the musical timeframe, moving on from the ’60s influence so prevalent on The Soul Sessions and Mind, Body & Soul to ’70s era soul with splashes of jazz and funk. The single, "Tell Me ‘Bout It,” is a genuinely sexy slab of Memphis fatback and Marvin Gaye’s influence is heard on "Proper Nice.” Guest appearances by Common, on "Tell Me What We’re Gonna Do Now,” and Lauryn Hill, on the most ambitious composition, "Music,” reprising "The Mask” from her days in the Fugees, are effective. "Bad Habit” sounds like an Angie Stone (no relation) outtake and may indicate the direction of Joss’s next release. (Virgin/EMI)