Am I the only one that feels it’s weird to “introduce” yourself to your audience on your third record? Odd. I can only imagine she wanted to update her image and show us that this was the ‘real’ her, based on this being quite a different album from the other of hers I heard this week.
I think the biggest thing is the introduction of Raphael Saadiq in the role of production. The sound changed. Not in a bad way, mind you. It still sounds like Joss Stone. The sound is just… bigger, brassier. More in your face. My jury is still out on the way this was approached. I generally really dislike it when a producer takes over and defines a band’s sound (I’m looking at your, Mutt Lange, Daniel Lanois…) It’s obnoxious to take a band and make them sound like yourself instead of themselves. Mind you, Saadiq has produced other acts, even the Roots (I do love me some Roots) so it’s not as bad as a total Lanois or Lange sound-wash, but the tone here is indeed different.
There’s still lots to love about this album, lots of soulful and groovy tunes. The ones I liked best were the slow jams, like What Were We Thinking. Baby Baby Baby has a sweet Jackson 5 sound (imagine that!), and there are guest appearances from Common and Lauryn Hill.
Almost every song here is a retro-soul jam-out, and Stone can still REALLY sing. I dunno, I liked this. Still, I’m gonna need more listens before I like it as much as I liked the (far more immediate) previous effort, Mind Body & Soul.
I knew of her, but not much about her when I found this CD for $2. I had vague recollections of her singing with Mick Jagger but I don’t recall why. Anyway.
These are really great, soulful tunes. They’re very uplifting, often with backing singers and all, just like the old R&B and soul records used to be. Of course, they’re all run through a modern filter, because why not!, but I came away from listening to this CD with a smile on my face, happy to have heard it. This girl can SING.
There are lots of highlights, like the tune Spoiled (loved it), the Stevie Wonder-ish bassline of You Had Me, the soulful reggae beat of Less Is More, the… well, you get the idea. There was one sample that I found distracting because for the life of me I couldn’t place it. In the song Don’t Cha Wanna Ride there’s this earworm hook line and it turns out to be from a 1968 song called Soulful Strut by the Young-Holt Limited. I’d have lost that round of Jeopardy, but I knew the melody line easily.
This was a great CD. I’d play it again tomorrow. In fact, I just might.
UPDATE: The reason she was singing with Mick Jagger was in the group Superheavy, which included Stone, Jagger, A. R. Rahman, Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), and Damian Marley. So now you know.