Joss Stone | Bruised but Not Broken

Stone’s live performances made her Brown Suga. She has soul, and it radiates through every inch of her body from her head down to her bare feet.

 

 

 

“Yeah, are you diggin’ on me? Yeah, I’m diggin’ on you now, baby./ Yeah, do you want a little bit of my love? Yea-yeah, wait a minute, wait a minute.” This is the first thing I heard sitting on the couch at my aunt’s house watching videos on VH1, one of my many weekend rituals.

The video seemed very psychedelic with its bright colors and groovy transitions between scenes. This was the beginning of my lifelong relationship with Joss Stone. It’s not very often you come across a soul singer who’s not black, and I was extremely interested. I wanted to know her story, her world. I searched her on Yahoo! once and that was it. Just as quickly as this relationship had begun it was over, my fleeting moment of perfection gone.

Seeing her and John Legend open VH1’s Save the Music: A Concert to Benefit the VH1 Save the Music Foundation special with Chaka Khan and Rufus’ “Tell Me Something Good” rekindled the chemistry I thought I had forgotten. Stone’s live performances made her Brown Suga. She has soul, and it radiates through every inch of her body from her head down to her bare feet.

The video for “Spoiled,” one of my favorite love songs by Stone, was so indicative of a point in my college life. It was great. Being in love from the inside out, wanting and having the one who holds your heart is such an exhilarating feeling; it’s like a small bit of heaven on earth. She sang about the experience perfectly: “And I would only be fooling myself if I tried to believe there’s room for someone else in my heart./ There ain’t no way I’m getting over you./ See, I don’t know what I’ve been trying to prove./ I’m hopeless, helpless when it comes to you, you; you spoiled me.”

Joss Stone’s Mind, Body & Soul album was so awesome. Every track told a story of love, the difficulties and triumphs. Stone’s voice only added to each lyric as she poured her raspy, contralto brown suga dipped vocals over each track. After listening to this album, was I inspired to listen to her first release, The Soul Sessions, which was far more filled with the jazzy songs that have become a trademark for her.

The album was filled with so much heart, and even though this album was one of covers, in every tune Stone put her signature pizzazz on it. She made me feel the emotion and connection she had to the song, the scenario to the love. As if she wasn’t certified enough as brown suga, I heard her belt out “Dirty Man.” She had my inner soul hollering as she roared, “Oh, I’m cleaning up my whole house as fast as I can it’s time to make everything all spic and span. /You’re a dirty, ooh you’re a dirty man. Oh, you do me dirty for so many years, yes, you did. You’re a dirty, dirty man, yes, you are./ Ooh, and I’m tired of you and you’re wallowing in your dirt too. You’re dirty man. You’re dirty man./ Now get out of my house don’t you never, never, never, never come back again don’t you never you’re a dirty, you’re a dirty man. And I’m done with your dirty ways.”

If that didn’t make you either think of a dirty man or make up one, then I’d say your soul has to be cold, and you might even be dead because she sang this song with so much passion. Her rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” on BET’s UNCF, An Evening of Stars Tribute to Aretha Franklin, completely sent chills up my spine. She was sanging. I had goose bumps and hair rising off of my arms as my body swayed to background music of the piano, drums, and saxophone.

Introducing Joss Stone, her third album—I’ll admit it wasn’t what I expected of her. It wasn’t better, but it was good. Her songwriting skills flourished into something amazing, and this album was only the beginning. There was a certain maturity that she had reached, which sadly can be discovered only after heartbreak as she sings about in “Bruised but Not Broken.”

“Been a lot that I’ve been through I’ve cried a tear a time or two, baby, you know I cried some over you./ I had my heart kicked to the ground. Love ripped me up and tore me down, baby./ But that ain’t enough to break me ‘cause I’ll rise above it, and I’ll pick myself up, and I’ll dust the pain off, off my heart. /And I’ll be alright and I’ll love again and the wounds will mend. I’m bruised but not broken.”

When you finally get through your heartache, this is the mentality you take on. Somewhere through all the hurt, you realize that you have to survive this pain to get to the other side. That’s something I found out, too. This song kept me from being bitter and internalizing a hate that could do more harm than good to myself than anyone else. You have to love, bless, and forgive them for your own fruitfulness. Trust me, they’ll beat themselves up better than you ever could.

A song that really captivated and still captivates me on this album is “What Were We Thinking?” It tells the tale of the awkward place in a relationship where you wonder, really, “What the hell was I thinking?” and it hurts. It hurts because you ignored the signs, or maybe just because it just hurt. “And tell me you’ve made up your mind (I’m not going to cry),” she drawls out. “It wouldn’t be the first time./ See I deserve it’s my own heart that hurts me./ I’m gon’ brand myself the fool ‘cause I fell in love with you and what were we thinking?”

It’s not until the final verse that she lays her trampled upon heart out with the truth as she proclaims, “I try to turn it off but it’s hard to see through this emptiness slowly breaking me./ Maybe hurt me just a little less then I can start to breathe, but still your heart is out of reach./ I should’ve known. It’s right in front me, screaming, ‘girl, just walk away.’ / See it can’t ever be, we carried on making our mistakes thinking love was free and now you’ve taken part of me.” Listening to this song wells up so many tears in my eyes, maybe because of the identity I can find within the song, or with her experienced emotion of every word sung, or all of the above and in between the lines.

Joss Stone is the artist who can make the emotions flow through your body and pull at your heartstrings like Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, and Patti LaBelle, and all you can do is surrender because the pull is too strong to fight. She really is a powerhouse, a masterpiece, and a force to be reckoned with.

Colour Me Free did just that for Stone. It colored in only ways she could paint herself to the world as an independent, boundary-crossing, loving, limit-setting woman. My favorites on this album are “4 and 20” and “Girlfriend on Demand.” Coincidentally, both are essentially about a woman taking charge of her relationships, telling her guy, “You have four and 20 hours./ Just one day to prove to me that your love has got the power to make me believe you’ll take me where I want to be./ Four and 20 hours and that’s me.” The latter, “Girlfriend on Demand,” she demands that he not fool himself when she knows what’s going down, and for him to “give me one good reason I should sit around and wait if you control my destiny how can I trust in fate?/ Go ahead, take your time I want you to be free, but I won’t stay here by your side while you’re denying me.”

Recently, Joss Stone released the single “Karma” from her latest CD LP1, and I loved it. She says exactly how I feel in her appropriate, feisty words. Karma is something you can’t escape and have to accept no matter how the cookie crumbles. I hear she also has another album, The Soul Session 2, set for release in February, and I can’t wait.

Joss, you are the soul pourer of soul pourers, the sassy British beauty who truly epitomizes independence, freedom, and accountability. For the powerhouse that you are right now and for the legend you truly are destined to become, I thank you. You have inspired me to live boldly, boundlessly, and uncensored, and for that, girlfriend, you are brown suga because we can all sing “I got a right to be wrong, got to sing my own song, I might be singing out of key, but it sure feels good to me,” and for those who object to our visions: “you’re entitled to your opinion, but it’s really my decision./ I can’t turn back I’m on a mission. If you care, don’t you dare, blur my vision./Let me be all that I can be don’t smother me with negativity and whatever’s out there waiting for me I’m going to face it willingly.”

XOXO,
A.

I’ve shared my love affair now I want you to share yours. Email me at intern@playbackstl.com and tell me your story of how you fell in love with music.

 

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