Joss Stone | LP1 (Stone’d/Surfdog)

There is no one in the industry who can top her vocal skills and talent.



If you’ve never been disappointed by a Joss Stone album, or even if you have, don’t prepare now for what seems to be an impossible description of her new release, LP1. Stone channels her inner Janis Joplin and Linda Perry with the crazy soulful, loud, rough, and bold vocals and melodies.

The first half of album recants that in relationships you reap what you sow and through all of that pain you are forced to grow. The first single, “Karma,” is the lead track for this lesson as Stone rocks out about the power of fate. She chants about how her naïveté played a part in her heartbreak and how her lover preyed on her jadedness. “I am what I am. You did what you did,” Stone sings. “I’m glad I’m not sinner baby ’cause here’s the twist/ You are what you are and I saw what I saw./ Karma’s your master and you’re the bitch, yes you are.”

Opening the album “Newborn” serves as a call of re-birth of self, logic, and relationships. The upbeat, finger-snapping, foot-tapping “Don’t Start Lying to Me Now” is just as the title suggests, as Stone is telling her lover it’s best he leaves if he’s going to be filled with lies and excuses. No fruitful relationship can ever be built on either of those options, as they set each party up for disappointment.

Drawn in with the drums, piano, and Stone’s hypnotizing voice, “Last One to Know” is a plea for love to pass her by after her love has been tested for the last time with a love that never quite finishes. “Is this the door that will never close like it’s done before, a thousand times?” As the music intensifies, so do Stone’s emotions.

It’s as if in this song Stone is on her knees, begging not to be in love as she screamingly cries, “In love. I don’t want to be in love./ Don’t make me, baby. Don’t make me, don’t make me be in love / I think that I’ve just found me the right one. I can’t believe that I am the last one to know/ Oh, I hold my cards close to my chest. I had my heart put to the test/ …hell no, I don’t want to be, I really don’t want to be in love/ Don’t make me be. Take it back, baby. I don’t want to be/ I don’t need to be in love.”

Joss Stone has to be the Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight of our time. There is no one in the industry who can top her vocal skills and talent, as she has shown relentlessly with every album released, especially this one.

“Drive All Night” and “Cry Myself to Sleep” are certainly introspective tracks that give the listeners a glimpse into the soul of Stone. A soul that is strong, relentless, and renewed with each day, every failure, and every success. “I won’t cry myself to sleep, no (stop before it starts)/ going to find myself a pen and write down my heart.”

While Stone gives great vocals on LP1, I’m a little confused on the album’s underlying messages that make me both love and hate her. The beginning of the album is all about running far away from love because of the scars it’s left, but songs like “Somehow,” “Boat Yard,” and “Landlord” insists that she has a strong desire to explore a relationship with a particular guy she’s had history with, saying, “Baby, you’re my life/ I’ll wait for you.”

Maybe it’s just an illusion of the perfect life in love, but as we all know, those fantasies are short-lived—if not, in fact, impossible. Something tells me there is an inner struggle of wanting love and companionship, but not the hurt and confusion that comes with it. I can appreciate the honest self-contradiction, but I just wish the lines weren’t so blurry and that we, the listeners, can clearly understand and tell the difference. The last two songs on the album, the only duet “ Picnic for Two” featuring Dave Stewart and “Cutting the Breeze,” introduce a new Stone with country undertones as she lays vocals over a guitar, showing the influence from Nashville’s country spirit, where she recorded this album in just six days.

All in all, LP1 represents the renaissance of Joss Stone: a new, more defined outlook on life and love and what she wants and needs, both from herself and her mate. This is an album for the books as she unleashes the raw, pent up emotion of self-discovery, with or without someone there to explore the journey along the way, as time reveals each piece to life’s puzzle. A- | Ashley White  

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