Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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JOSS STONE
Mind, Body & Soul
S-Curve

Despite the title, Brit beauty steps back from retro-soul for the Aguilera market

Eighteen-year-old Joss Stone is cursed with a great voice--a plummy, gritty thing of tremendous range and power. Hearing her try to make like Gladys Knight on 2003's Miami funk-styled The Soul Sessions was like watching a 12 year old with 36Ds imitate Marilyn Monroe--sure some guys find it sexy, but they're perverts. For the rest of us, perhaps paradoxically, this album's compromise with the teen-pop divahood she was groomed for will feel like a bid for authenticity. Stone's infatuation with band grooves provides relief from the radio-ready synthesizers and compressors. And processed through an instrument more solid than Christina Aguilera's or Pink's, song-doctored fabrications like "Jet Lag" and "Don't Cha Wanna Ride" split the difference between guaranteed hook appeal and a decent simulation of emotional truth.

Blender, Oct. 2004