Joss Stone has surprised us all with her deep soulful voice, reminiscent of Aretha Franklin. Who would have thought that a voice like that could come from a little white English girl? Still, her debut release, The Soul Sessions, won the hearts of hip-hop and R&B; fans. A collection of cover tracks, it 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, but it is still an LP Joss Stone should be proud of and one that fans can 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 has 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 that 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 truly does have something for the listener’s mind, body, and soul.

Joss Stone
Mind, Body and Soul (2004)

Genre: Soul/Pop
Record Label: S-Curve Records

Pixelsurgeon Verdict

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