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Joss Stone 

Mind, Body & Soul (S-Curve)

The voice and vintage-R&B vibe of Joss Stone's 2003 debut The Soul Sessions were so at odds with reality -- how could the second coming of Aretha be a lily-white British teen? -- that it's still hard to believe. But not only does Mind, Body & Soul repeat the trick, it betters it: Substituting Stone's originals for the debut's well-chosen covers yields results that are a little more organic, a little more Dusty in Memphis -- in short, it's even more remarkable for this 17-year-old.

Stone's biggest problem remains her unlikely success story; marveling that this is some teenage Limey can make it difficult to discern whether you're responding to novelty or authentically memorable music. And the retro R&B created by its three producers is so convincing that any concessions to modernity are unwelcome. However, Stone's voice -- whether purring out pure sizzle on "Torn and Tattered" or preaching the gospel according to Joss on "Spoiled" -- ultimately makes those concerns critical hair-splitting; Mind, Body & Soul simply has too much of the latter to ignore.

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September 23, 2020

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