After two critically acclaimed albums and a Gap ad campaign, Joss Stone hardly needs an introduction. So perhaps Introducing Joss Stone
is a re-introduction, now that the Brit soul siren has found her artistic identity -- here, she sounds less like a young woman channeling her older idols and more like an original idol in the making. Thanks to her pitch-perfect collaboration with producer and singer-songwriter Raphael Saadiq
has a sexy, '60s soul-meets-the Love Unlimited Orchestra
vibe. And from the look of the inset photo of the psychedelic body-painted duo intertwined, they got along rather well. The disc opens with the jubilant, string-laden "Girl They Won't Believe It," but the album doesn't fully come alive until Track 7, the hip-hop-tinged "Music," although a guest appearance by the reclusive Lauryn Hill
nearly outshines Stone's smoldering vocals. Amid Saadiq's rapturous soundscape of dizzying stings and percolating bass lines, the newly redheaded singer's powerhouse pipes are golden, notably on the Stevie Wonder
-reminiscent "Arms of My Baby," the Donna Summer
-esque "Bad Habit," and the doo-wop-and-gospel-inspired "What Were We Thinking." Full of mellifluous melodies and irresistible grooves, this is one meet-and-greet you don't want to miss.