Introducing Joss Stone
Lest the album title perplex, it's just Joss Stone trying to assert herself two albums and millions of sales after she first belted her big, soulful voice at audiences who couldn't quite believe what they were hearing from a 16-year-old white fledgling.
Save for an unnecessary spoken-word introduction by footballer-turned-actor Vinnie Jones, the recording largely represents the child protege as adult star. With help from producer Raphael Saadiq (Macy Gray), Stone, now 20, becomes sassier, more confident and unashamedly commercial.
But that's not to say fans will take to Introducing Joss Stone. In honing her act, Stone (born Joscelyn Eve Stoker) now competes with the likes of Christina Aguilera and other generic acts who rely on marketing as much as on strapping songs to push their albums into the charts. Only a handful of the 14 tracks deserve radio play; the others simply fill space or provide the notes for Stone to pipe.
The best of the bunch are Arms of My Baby, which features groovy harmonies; the tuneful Tell Me What We're Gonna Do Now; and the 'bad' Tell Me 'Bout It. Stone's sexual playfulness continues in Put Your Hands on Me, although she slows the rhythm on track seven, Music, to expound on what matters most to her. Her message must also have meant something to former Fugees star Lauryn Hill, whose contribution is an extended rap.
Stone has taken a risk coming out in this way. For those who prefer her raw and untamed, Introducing Joss Stone may be her curtain call.