You know what, it’s easy to take potshots at Joss Stone. There is something to be said, after all, for someone who can maintain tenacious irritability despite being the victim of a failed kidnapping plot. Sadly, a project like Water For Your Soul will probably only exacerbate our collective venom, given Stone’s embrace of reggae is so obtuse that she may as well be wearing blackface.
This has always been her problem, though. Joss Stone is a modern magpie, borrowing old-school sounds like soul and R&B and sanitising them to the point that neither she nor they have any remaining identity. That’s what happens throughout this latest album, as songs like Love Me put forward her tick-box interpretation of Marley, while Way Oh and Wake Up officially piss on that memory. There’s a clearly defined line between homage and parody, which matters very little to Joss Stone as she tears through a song called Sensimilla. Yes, really.
Elsewhere, she’s doing the whole campfire-cult singalong on Stuck On You (throw in some more ethnic sounds just for lols) or trying to inspire the masses (“don’t you know that there’s a star guiding everyone,” sings her chorus on Star). It’s relentlessly awful stuff that shows how, had it not been for some fluke success back in the day, Joss Stone would certainly struggle to find a place in the music world now. Water For Your Soul ultimately feels like a vanity exercise, but to be honest we’d sooner drown than sit through it again.
Water For Your Soul by Joss Stone can be ordered here.