It’s been a few year’s since we’ve heard anything from Joss Stone. We were first introduced to the unlikely Soul songstress from Devon back in 2003 when she released her debut album, the critically acclaimed Soul Sessions. She then went on to become one of the biggest names in contemporary soul.
However since then it has been far from plain sailing for Joss with flagging album sales and an ongoing battle with her record label. In fact the new album Colour Mr Free was recorded well over a year ago but was delayed due to it not being “commercial” enough. To be fair, it isn’t, and that’s a good thing! With her fourth studio album, Joss has returned to the old skool style of her breakthrough debut album.
Colour Me Free opens with the feel good Janis Joplin inspired “Free Me” a catchy upbeat track with an infectious guitar riff. Next is the more contemporary R&B soul sounding “Could Have Been You” an emotional torch song to an old love. The thing that jumps out about this album is the ’70s soul influenced production which is somewhat reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield‘s “This is America Today”. Stone’s voice also has matured and she seems much more modest with her vocal inflections which on this album are well placed, soulful and genuinely impressive.
Other standout tracks include “Lady” which starts with a effortlessly cool downbeat guitar lick which is then joined by Stone’s soft crooning voice and eventually builds up to full brass section, drums, backing vocals and wailing guitars as Joss finally lets rip. On the latter half of the album Stone covers Ray Charles‘s “I Believe It To My Soul” and “You’ve Got The Love” made famous by The Source & Candi Staton as well as collaborating with an impressive array of artists including Rapheal Saadiq, David Sanborn, Jeff Beck, Jamie Hartman and rapper Nas.
This is an all round quality offering from Stone, who refreshingly has gone against the grain of current mainstream musical trends to put out an album of ’70s inspired retro soul that is a genuine representation of her as an artist.
Reviewed by Chris O’Gorman