Plenty of folks fell in love with the girl after her 2003 debut, the aptly titled Soul Sessions. Just a teen at the time but getting guidance from veteran “Clean Up Woman” Betty Wright, Joss Stone tackled gritty sultry soul dusties like a woman twice her age. Mind, Body & Soul is slicker, designed to bring the beguiling singer to a wider pop audience. The uptown swagger of first single “You Had Me” guarantees its radio jam status, and “Young at Heart” and “Understand” are hooky and modern in the way of Alicia Keys’ more unrefined moments. But Body doesn’t overdo its courting of accessibility, or drown its star in concept. The producers, including the returning Wright, understand what a gem Stone’s voice is. Appropriately, the album’s brace of originals don’t mess with a good thing — throughout, they stick to Stone’s leads like a silky lace chemise. “Spoiled” (co-written with Lamont and Beau Dozier) is a soft and simmering ballad, “Less Is More” moves confidently into a reggae shuffle, and “Killing Time” surges on a gloriously organic arrangement behind Stone’s powerful vocal phrasing. The love is in the voice, and she puts both craft and reckless abandon into every single note.
Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.