A big voice. She has a big voice. I’m talking about soul singer Joss Stone. I haven’t heard much from her prior to listening to her new reggae-based album Water for Your Soul.
This 14 track set is a result of a collaboration with Damian Marley who Joss Stone worked with on his and Nas’ collaborative effort Distant Relatives, a set that at times isn’t far from a few of the cuts on Water for Your Soul. The two were also part of all-star super-group SuperHeavy together with Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart and A.R. Rahman.
Joss Stone is 28 years old. She has made music professionally for the past 12. This is her seventh studio album. That’s crazy impressive. Over the years she has tried and tested many genres. She started with R&B and has since moved effortlessly between soul, blues, funk and rock. Never stopping, always on the move.
So a reggae album isn’t really that surprising. But quite a few will probably laugh by just hearing Joss Stone and reggae in the same sentence. But they will be proven wrong. Because this album has it fair share of memorable moments, but also a bunch of less memorable ones, for example the ridiculous ganja anthem Sensimilla.
The album collects soulful, sensual and mostly lightweight reggae with a slices of funk, latin and hip-hop thrown in. The arrangements are superb with elastic and bubbling rhythms underpinning Joss Stone’s powerful vocals.
Joss Stone graces massive reggae cuts like Molly Town and Harry’s Symphony with confidence and swagger. The former borrowing from the massive Swing Easy riddim and on the latter she – together with Linton Kwesi Johnson – warns against bad boys. She also nods towards reggae singers Johnny Osbourne, Matthew McAnuff, Barrington Levy and a few others.
Water for Your Soul might be bubble-gum reggae, but it sure tastes good.