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"The Soul Sessions"
The cover photo of an obscured Joss Stone hints that this collection of righteous soul covers is to be judged on musical merits alone. And the teenager definitely has the vocal chops and phrasing -- and then some.
You'll have to wait till next year to experience the full publicity hype when Stone releases her proper debut of original material. But, in the meantime, "The Soul Sessions" will do just nicely, thank you, and certainly sets a high standard for the young woman.
Her veteran studio mates, including Betty Wright -- all pivotal figures of the 1970s Miami soul sound -- say "she's got a learned voice far beyond her years." And as presented with a close-miked, live-in-the-studio approach, the overall immediacy of her music makes it evident that she's not just another prefab "British Idol."
The only fault of the album is that Stone's voice is so enthusiastically strong, it's almost too much to absorb all in one sitting.
Whether featured in full-band or intimate settings, Stone proves she can control the dynamics of her voice to suit the occasion and still get to the song's emotional core.
You can tell her older backup musicians are glad this teenager is bringing back the authentic soul feeling. "Victim of a Foolish Heart," Carla Thomas' "I've Fallen in Love With You" and "Some Kind of Wonderful" all get an unbridled and authoritative treatment. And her transformation of John Sebastian's hippie folk song "I Had a Dream" into a powerful gospel testimonial is truly remarkable.
Stone really belies her youth on the Laura Lee obscurity "Dirty Man," a love-gone-wrong scorcher with just two guitars, and the Isley Brothers' "For the Love of You," the lengthy album closer she sings with electric piano accompaniment.
But one of the hippest things she and guest backup band the Roots pull off is their take on the White Stripes' "Fell in Love with a Girl." Stone switches up the gender title reference for a slowed-down and funked-up version that's strictly in the pocket.
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The most downloaded songs of the week, as listed by MP3.com:
1. "Until the Day I Die" / Story of the Year
2. "Shake Your Tailfeather" / Nelly, P. Diddy and Murphy Lee (from "Bad Boys II")
3. "Promise" / Spoken
4. "Baby Blue" / The Early November
5. "Harder to Breathe" / Maroon 5
6. "Best of Me" / The Starting Line
7. "Ibiza MegaMix 2003" / Antinomie
8. "Cute Without the 'E' (Cut from the Team)" / Taking Back Sunday
9. "Home" / JamisonParker
10. "i remember everything" / Sub City
1. "Big Band" / drdrbob
2. "Troy's Bucket" / Olivia
3. "Hawaiian Rain" / Coconut Joe
4. "Riverside Waiting" / Pennylane
5. "Not waving, but drowning" / Pennylane
6. "Melelana" / Keali'i Reichel
7. "Wanting Memories" / Keali'i Reichel
8. "39" / Olivia
9. "Two Waters (Kailua)" / Coconut Joe
10. "No Ka Moku Kiakahi Ke Aloha" / Keali'i Reichel
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