And what a debut indeed.
Influenced by the sound and times of such great artists as Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Gladys Knight & The Pips, and Betty Wright (whom she worked with on this album as well as on THE SOUL SESSIONS), Stone recreates what the music industry is missing today: music. With her fabulous live band behind her, Ms. Stone croons, sasses, and tears her way through self-penned songs about life and love. The result is that good ol' soul sound with a contemporary vibe.
This album just debuted at No. 1 in her native UK this past week. She is the youngest act ever to have a No. 1 album in the UK. A well deserved achievement. This makes me a very happy person. I like to see actual music on the music charts, at the top position no less.
Below are reviews of each song on the album. Click on the links for lyrics.
|01:Right To Be Wrong||Blues + Soul = WONDERFUL! If I had to choose an absolute favorite from the album, I think it would be this song (but even that's a close call because there are some really great songs on this record). Ms. Stone can't go wrong with this kind of song. Her meaty voice together with bluesy guitar rifts and a marching beat create the perfect personal anthem. Very patriotic of one's own country: the self. In an effort to silence the criticism about her ethnicity, age, and choice of music (the girl was put on this earth to sing soul--no question about it--that voice!), Stone asserts in the opening lines, "I've got a right to be wrong / My mistakes will make me strong / Stepping out into the great unknown / I'm feeling wings though I've never flown / I've got a mind of my own / Flesh and blood to the bone, I'm not made of stone / I've got a right to be wrong / So just leave me alone." Stone has admitted that she can't see herself singing this song forever because at some point she's gonna learn from her mistakes. However, it is my hope that this song becomes a hit so she continues to sing it at her future gigs. Great, great song. Excellent opener. (HEY! I just read this is going to be the next single! Right on, my friend! That's what I like to hear! This makes me a very happy person. You have no idea. Muhahaha.)|
I know what you're thinking. "What the heck is this song about?" Funny title, yes. But don't be deceived. This song deserves to be heard on the radio someday. And if S-Curve/Relentless Records play their cards right, that should happen. (But you never know with record companies because they have this tendency to mess up with the promotion of their artists (e.g. Sony = a very bad record company).) Stone croons her way through gravity-defying love: "I got jet lag and I never even left the ground / See it's like that every time you come around / I'm so hung-over and I never even touched a drop / See I can't get enough / This must be love." Cute lyrics matched to an awesome, catchy groove. You'll be hooked, especially when she and her gals break it down with the outro-chorus: "Baby, don't you know you really really got it goin' on?" Sista's got it goin' on. Mmhmm.
|Now this isn't a particular favorite of mine, but it is the first single so I had best be promoting it. I was a little surprised that this song was chosen as the first single. It caught me off guard because it was not what I was expecting. Nevertheless, surprises are good. If radio starts warming up to this song, it'll really stand out because it's just so old school and funky. There's nothing quite like it on the radio today. The rhythm track is every band's dream: a full-out jam session. What you hear is the first and only take during the recording session (as the lights went out a minute later after the session ended--they were in the middle of the great blackout that swept across the Northeast last year). The horns and strings add some nice color to this song. The choruses are forceful and edgy with multiple layers of Stone's vocals. In the song, Stone lashes out at her ex-lover for choosing drugs over her. See ya, loser!|
|Stone admits this is her favorite song off the album (and she's never really ever crazy about her own compositions). I'm surprised she likes this song so much. It hasn't really grown on me yet, but that could very well change. This seems to be the next single as it has already debuted on the Urban Adult Contemporary Charts at No. 27 (while "You Had Me" continues to make a stab at Top 40 radio). (No word on a video for this song yet. We'll see though.) It's a ballad complete with a horn section and fabulous background "oo"s and "oh"s during the chorus endings that give the song that good ol' R&B vibe. Her vocals are superb here as she wails for lost love.|
|This is one of three new songs that are available on her official site for a full-stream preview. I was so impressed with this song the first time I heard it that I thought it should have been the first single over "You Had Me." Uptempo with a catchy summer beat (that samples "Soulful Strut" by Young-Holt Unlimted), the song finds an impatient, frustrated Stone trying to woo her man to take a ride before it's too late. The implied metaphor of a car being a body is a little naughty, perhaps a little too much for a teenager. Oh wells. Maybe I just have a dirty mind for thinking that. Oops. Nevertheless, this song is cool. So easy and bright. Believe me. This would make an excellent summer single. Summer '05? (I hope the album is still alive and kickin' by that time.)|
|Here Stone experiments with a reggae beat. Many critics point to this song as Stone's future musical direction. I hope they're wrong. The song is alright, but it doesn't have enough of that "soul factor" you would have come to expect upon hearing the first five tracks. Stone has seen better songs. The melody is a bit disjointed (due to the reggae rhythm). I'll be honest: I skip this one. I do, however, like the content of the song: Stone tells her man to stop suffocating her. Less is more, baby.|
|This gospel-rock-tinged ballad tell the story of a person who is lost and who is in need of a friend. Stone reassures her disheartened comrade, "If your spirit's broken and you can't bear the pain / I will help you put the pieces back a little more each day / If your heart is locked and you can't find the key / Lay your head upon my shoulder, I'll set you free / I'll be your security." The B3 and organ make it sound like Stone is in church singing to the congregation. The breakdown in the final choruses with a full gospel choir and those lovely handclaps let us know that we really have gone to church. I kid you not. Boys and girls, you had best be clapping your hands. It's all about audience participation. Stone lets her voice rip as she fights (in a good way) to be heard over the swelling choir and wailing guitar.|
|Stone gets rebellious on this song. She defends her beau against friends and family. The fact that her real-life beau is of African-American descent may have been a big reason why she wrote this song. She turns the attack on her attackers, telling them, "You're the one in denial." Personal life aside, Stone and her gals have fun with the "oooo-oooo-oooo"s during the pre-choruses. The dramatic, operatic opening is a bit of an ear-catcher. Drama, drama, drama. Such is the nature of human life.|
|This instrumentation in this song is really different, but cool. The intro and outro "la-di-da"s give this song an eerie, haunted circus feel. The rattle of the tamborine at the beginning calls to mind the rattlesnake. The stocatto strings create a suspense that drives the pre-choruses and bridge. The sprinkling of the keys adds a nice touch of neo-soul to the choruses. In the song, Stone confronts her man about their up-and-down relationship: "What's the name of the game that we are playing? / Well, whenever I think that we are winning / Then you roll the dice, take a slide right back to the one from '99 / Is it gonna go on like this forever? / Are we gonna take that last step together? / Going round and round, up and down / Feels just like Snakes & Ladders." Clever use of the card game. Yes, I too was wondering what this song was about when I first saw the title. I'll admit this one took me a couple of spins to like. Now it's a favorite. Love those strings during the bridge!|
On this most welcomed acoustic production (as most of the album is over-produced with too much synthesizers and such), Stone reassures her man that he's the only one. Speaking from personal experience, Stone acknowledges that it is hard to have a relationship with a traveling star. But she tells her man to understand that she loves him and only him.
|This is yet another single-worthy gem. In similar fashion to "Jet Lag," but with more of a hip-hop feel. Stone had previously debuted this song along with "Jet Lag" during several gigs in support of THE SOUL SESSIONS. Stone sits and yearns when she spots love at first sight: "Boy, you're so fine and I wanna tell you so / I'm much too shy / Wanna make you mine / But I don't know how." That "bump-bump" beat is killers and is a lot more prevalent on this album version. It'll get ya good. So will the verses with their catchy rising and falling melodic lines. Another full-out jam session. Awesome. It's a shame they edited this track so much because Stone and her band usually jam away for five minutes on this song live. The album version is only four minutes.|
|I don't know why, but I think "disco" when I hear this song. Maybe it's that underlying guitar/B3/organ rift. Or maybe it's the "riding a rodeo" line. Anyway, this song is cool and I love it. Right up there with "Right To Be Wrong" as my absolute favorites off the album. Joss has said that she loves this song as well--maybe it's due to the fact that it is the one of the few songs she did not write as she has expressed disinterest in favoring her own songs. Whatever the case may be, Stone displays the many colors of her voice to full effect. She starts by singing high during the verses and then drops it low to that husky tone during the choruses. Neat stuff. The background gals and guys sound wonderful here, providing a perfect compliment to Stone's ad libs, especially during the bridge. You could make a song with just the background vocals. Now that's pretty cool. I'll admit this song took a couple spins, but once I got the beat stuck in my head it was all over. Now it's another favorite. You'll just want to get up and get your groove thang on! Mmhmm.|
|I first heard this song in Towers at Kahala (keep in mind it was three weeks before the album was to be released). At first, I didn't realize it was her, but I thought, "Hey, this is a good song." Then I listened to the voice a bit more and thought, "Hey, is this Joss Stone?! Wait! How can that be?!" So I headed over to the counter and there was the CD on display on top of the stereo unit. They had an advance copy of the album. I was so jealous! This song got me really excited about the album as I hadn't heard any other previews at the time. Anyway, this song finds Joss telling her man to get it right. "You better stop what you're doing before you do it all wrong again," she pleads. Simple enough. However, Stone, being a great interpreter of song, lets her voice loose in the final choruses over a wailing guitar and a wall of background voices, creating a perfect mix of urgency and honesty. Then the band jams away with a smokin' guitar solo. So "you better stop what you're doing" and take a listen, boy.|
As indicated by the title, this song is meant to sound like a lullaby. The synthesized piano appregios sprinkled throughout the verses and choruses creates that lullaby effect. A soft, subtle string backing, which builds during the bridge, adds to the gentleness of this song. The background hums complement Stone's rather restrianed ad libs ('cause sista wants to put you to sleep, not wake you up). This is a song for any weary soul out there. Stone will sing you to sleep (in a good way, of course).