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Album Review

Stone shows growth on bold new album

(Kristin Burns)
July 25, 2011

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It’s not odd that Joss Stone titled her fifth album “LP1,’’ since the young English soul singer does seem to be resetting the clock. Not only is the record her first through her own Stone’d Records imprint, but it’s also a stylistic step forward. “LP1’’ has bolder blues-rock and country undertones, and those platforms elevate the originality of Stone’s raw talents.

Dave Stewart produced “LP1’’ and navigated Stone through a course of guitar rock and piano balladry (the two also duet on the quaint bonus track, “Picnic for Two,’’ and are in the band SuperHeavy with Mick Jagger).

The allegorical “Newborn’’ shows Stone growing as a writer as well as a singer. With her rich tone that is cut with a bit of rasp, Stone has the ability to inhabit songs the way good actors create characters. For example, after the prayerful good will of “Newborn,’’ Stone convincingly turns on her sneer for “Karma’’ without a hint of contradiction; this is simply an artist at work. But Stone’s wild-child approach can backfire, as it does on the torchy “Last One to Know,’’ which simply gets away from her.

But on “LP1,’’ Stone mostly imbues her songs with passion and energy. After an opening salvo of soul-rock numbers, she slows the tempo and works through the knotted emotional tangles of “Drive All Night,’’ “Cry Myself to Sleep,’’ and “Somehow,’’ songs where joys and dangers blur into hazy yearning and questionable outcomes.

“LP1’’ is full of rough-and-tumble songs, but it’s elegant in its aspirations. (Out tomorrow)

SCOTT McLENNAN

ESSENTIAL “Drive All Night’’