mon 11/12/2017

CD: Joss Stone – Water For Your Soul | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Joss Stone – Water For Your Soul

CD: Joss Stone – Water For Your Soul

Devon soul singer learns reggae for her seventh album, to surprising effect

'Molly Town' could swell the soul of a robot

To some critics, Joss Stone manages her career with the authenticity and conviction of her accent at the 2007 Brit Award ceremony. Yet with seven albums under her belt, a Grammy, two Brit Awards, and her own record label by the age of 28, her approach seems to be working. And for this latest, she’s stepped boldly outside her familiar soul territory. She got to know Jamaican star Damian Marley for Mick Jagger’s and Dave Stewart’s project Superheavy, and amongst the stew of flavours on display this time, reggae is the spiciest.  

There is a story of sorts to the album, about the break-up of a relationship (“Let Me Breathe”) and the beginning of another (“Stuck On You”). The lyrics are serviceable, but unremarkable. What really works on this release is the sound, a rich, mostly acoustic mix of brass, piano and percussion over which Stone’s vocals soar with compelling suppleness. With the exception of of “Harry’s Symphony” (a hymn to the herb of surprising evangelism, as if to prove her reggae credentials) it doesn’t much matter what she sings. You’d have to be stroking your beard with furious cynicism not to get moving to some of these songs. “Harry’s Symphony”, “Wake Up”, and “Way Oh” have an irresistible reggae swing, while the stratospheric vocals on “Molly Town” could swell the soul of a robot.

This is probably not an album for purists of any of the half-dozen genres cheerfully thrown together here. There are one or two experiments too many. The tabla and Indian percussion on “Stuck On You” work, but perhaps less so within the album as a whole; the Celtic fiddles on “The Answer” are a step towards Babel. It’s not as if she could exhaust the whole of reggae in a single album. Yet there’s much to like here, and a world of sympathetic sounds for Stone to continue exploring.

@matthewwrighter

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