'Mind, Body & Soul': Joss Stone is here to stay

It’s hard to believe that the album’s sultry and soulful tone comes from a 17-year-old Brit, but England’s latest addition to the music scene has a voice that gives established divas something to worry about. Stone has a powerful voice, resonant with genuine grit and passion. Her honest lyrics enable her music to hold its own among the groove-infused classics. At the same time, the maturity of her lyrics sets them apart from the shallowness of her contemporary teen competition.

The album, which came out on Sept. 27 through S-Curve Records, has the credibility to establish Stone as a bonafide artist. Over 300 female artists try to make it in the music industry each year; Stone accomplishes the feat, despite her less-than-Britney inspired sound. Stone herself remarks, “For me, personally, ‘Mind, Body & Soul’ is my real debut,” and she could not be more right. Stone is so personally connected to the music and lyrics of her songs that one can envision her falling to her knees during each song’s emotional climax.

“Mind, Body & Soul” is reminiscent of 70s-style soul, but it’s not without traces of the current R&B scene. Stone reminds us of her age in some of her lyrics, especially when she croons “I have our song on repeat on my iPod, even when I sleep.” She and her production team perform the difficult task of creating radio-ready songs without losing their retro-soul vision.

Stone co-wrote the album’s first track, “You Had Me,” with her mother and it is the most contemporary of her songs. Although it may depart slightly from her retro-soul style, it’s no ordinary pop song. Stone is still able to infuse the lyrics with determination and emotion beyond her years. Her vocal maturity shines through during her slower jams where she demonstrates the control her powerful voice lacked in her first album. Stone climbs her octaves with grace, never seeming to try too hard or show off-Christina-style.

“Spoiled” sounds like something Aretha would sing, proving that Stone truly is headed toward greatness. “Right to Be Wrong” is destined to be the next adolescent ballad, while “Jet Lag” will without a doubt be the huge love song of the coming year. “Don’t Know How” shows off Stone’s talents and rich voice, and she is able to show her maturity along with her youth during “Understand,” where she huskily sings of teenage trials and tribulations.

“Snakes and Ladders” adds another element to the album by infusing delicate harp sounds, proving that Stone doesn’t have just any production team in her corner. She continues to flirt with different musical sounds with reggae-styled “Less is More” and groovy “Don’t Cha Want a Ride,” which underscore the album’s sensuality. “Torn and Tattered” has the feel of 70s-style soul, with its meaningful lyrics and tight beats.

Stone’s final two tracks, both co-written by Beth Gibbons of Portishead, truly shine. Gospel-inspired “Killing Time” is delivered smoothly and authentically, and “Sleep Like a Child” is simply beautiful. It is here that Stone’s voice achieves the elegance of a seasoned music veteran. Joss Stone has truly arrived, and she is definitely here to stay.