album reviews

Joss Stone
Mind, Body and Soul
S-Curve (2004)

Mind, Body and Soul gives Joss Stone a second attempt at the first impression she left with last year's The Soul Sessions, a covers album that granted her an extra minute of fame with a re-gendered version of the White Stripes' "Fell in Love With a Girl". Although Stone is listed as a co-author for most of Mind, her alleged soul is lost under the album's vanilla R&B beats and generic instrumentation.

After warming up with a few ballads whose sparseness exposes Stone's bland lyrics ("I've got a right to be wrong/ My mistakes will make me strong"), Mind picks up tempo with Stone's breathy single "You Had Me," a teenage-girl pleaser with its danceable rhythms, sing-along choruses, and empowered message for survival post-breakup ("I'm taking it back/ Taking back my life"). But the album doesn't stay upbeat for long, to Stone's detriment. She doesn't have the vocal prowess to sustain slower tunes, leaving her to oooh-oooh her way through tracks like the background-driven "Young at Heart".

Mind is not just banal, it contains no surprises: A song consoling a friend ("Security") is rounded out with a gospel choir, just like in every American Idol finale. A cliched sentiment ("I keep our song on repeat") is modernized with a hip product advertisement ("on my iPod"). Given the predictability of Joss Stone's so-called original work on Mind, it's no wonder she (or her label) wanted to make her first splash singing other people's songs.

-Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: the Baltimore CityPaper: 24 November 2004
.: Mind, Body and Soul on