Album Review: Joss Stone ‘The Soul Sessions Vol 2′
When Joss Stone released her debut album, The Soul Sessions, in 2003, her voice and style of music were fairly unexpected. It was almost a novelty; this beautiful, young Brit singing the forgotten gems of an older generation of American singers. 2007’s Introducing Joss Stone was an album described as the artist finding her own voice, becoming a true and unique individual within the industry. Interestingly though, she followed it up with a step back towards more traditional soul music with Colour Me Free! in 2009. The artist who found her voice in 2007 seemed to still be searching, and so in a way it makes a lot of sense to now go all the way back to the beginning and start over, with a second volume for those soul sessions which launched her career.
Compared to that earlier release this package is perhaps even more focused on lesser-known songs, but they are songs which seem to mean a lot to Joss personally. While you would expect a cover album to be built around recognizable hits for a quick cash-grab, that really isn’t the case here at all. The selections here are interesting, and will open a lot of ears to a great big world of underrated soul classics.
The only problem is that I’m not absolutely sure that Stone was able to make these songs her own. She growls and snarls, but maybe a little too much, and for the most part that’s her only major contribution to the legacies of these tracks. Nothing very interesting comes of the songs on The Soul Sessions Vol. 2. Though, one could argue that keeping true to the source material is a positive, just as easily as I might suggest there isn’t much of a point in it
Stone’s voice really doesn’t need a whole lot of help to get by, and it almost doesn’t seem to matter at all which songs she has chosen. A catchy single or a well-known standard would not necessarily elevate the way that she sings, and innovation could even be harmful to her approach. It’s really all about her voice, and her sexy-but-approachable image. She could probably read from a plumbing manual and sell a million copies.
The only real standout on the album for me is ‘Sideways Shuffle’. The original was a unique song, and it hasn’t really been changed much here, but it definitely asserts itself as a highlight. As with the original The Soul Sessions, a contemporary song was also chosen to be transformed into the style of a soul classic, but her take on Broken Bells’ ‘The High Road’ is not as successful here as her White Stripes cover, ‘Fell In Love With a Boy’, was nine years ago.
There is huge raw talent on display here, which is more than enough to warrant a purchase, but if you are expecting something special from this record you may be disappointed by its mostly unremarkable approach. It’s a great compilation of soul music, and Stone should be commended for her record collection, if not so much for her artistry in this case.
Release Date: June 31, 2012
Image Courtesy of S-Curve Records