Joss Stone exploded onto the music scene in 2003, wowing audiences with her sultry, soulful vibrato and free-spirited melodies. Her first album, “The Soul Sessions,” went multi-platinum just as the young singer neared 18. Since then, she’s lulled listeners with blues ballads and rocked us with up-tempo tunes harkening back to the Motown era.
In less than a decade, Stone has released five records. It’s been only two years since the release of “Colour Me Free!” but Stone’s latest album “LP1” is not only a new chapter in her recording career but the first on her own record label, Stone’d Records, in partner with Surfdog Records.
Stone’s previous albums rely on a funkadelic baseline and soulful love stories uninhibited by worry – and most heavily on the inspiration of other artists. “The Soul Sessions” was a compilation of covers of soul singers that came before her – including Aretha Franklin (“All the King’s Horses”) and the Isley Brothers (“For the Love of You Pts. 1 & 2”). Since then, Stone has worked hard to forge her own path in the music industry. This new album not only solidifies her place as a creative and multi-talented artist but veers away from the Motown mimicry that some of her earlier singles relied on.
“LP1” was recorded in six days with the help of super-producer Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame in Nashville, Tenn. The record is a completely new sound that represents a huge step on Stone’s path to establishing her own style. Rather than use the bass-driven Motown riffs that powered her old music, this album is a piano-driven rock/blues fusion that compliments Stone’s soulful voice.
Though the first single, “Somehow,” is yet another love story from Stone, its redeeming qualities come in the fact that it’s a more personal story and showcases Stone’s vocals while still retaining simplicity. Though it was disappointing to hear another romantic ode from her, she makes up for it in the rest of the album by incorporating new stories into her work – scorning love, embracing life and declaring her own strength. “Newborn” emphasizes the rawness and power in Stone’s voice and is lyrically more mature than some of her previous work. The words are a testament to the fragility of each day and remind us to savor every moment while remembering the time as it passes.
The track “Karma” is by far the “funkiest” of all the songs on the new album, with that familiar funky bass, but the new rock element of this song brings it to another level. Stone is an absolute powerhouse in this song and radiates strength in the scornful lyrics about a relationship’s end. Similarly, in “Last One to Know” and “Landlord,” Stone declares that she is done with love, done with taking care of someone else before herself.
The drawback of Stone’s album comes in the overuse of that free spirit she exudes so much. Some of her lyrics try a little too hard to break away from love, like in “Karma”: “Come as your master and you’re the bitch.” Some of the analogies border on tacky as well – “Don’t wanna be your landlord anymore.” But lyrical nit-picking aside, “LP1” is an important step into new territory for Stone. She lets loose vocally and shows the world that she can thrive in a style that’s all her own.