not a member? click here to sign up

Colour Me Free

Devon’s Finest makes Motown-laced return

Rating: 5 / 10

Celina Murphy, 20 Oct 2009

Four albums and as many accents later, the sultry bohemian songbird is back and this time... she’s all grown up.

Kicking off with a smoky R‘n’B flourish, ‘Free Me’ is about as subtle as... well, the album cover art, which sees the 22-year-old prodigy reaching out from inside a cage, hammering home her sentiments on a rather boring label battle that played out earlier this year over Colour Me Free (again, very subtle, Joss).

The faux Motown shuffle on ‘Governmentalist’ is an example of Stone’s sarky side paying off. It’s backed up by some well-honed ‘60s girl group stylings and a tasteful appearance by Nas, who’s sounding particularly ‘Kanye’ right now. Likewise, the glorious ‘4 And 20’ is vintage soul to the core and could well be a Temptations B-side. The seemingly ad-libbed conclusion is 30 seconds of vocal spectacle every singer should hear.

These and ‘Parallel Lines’ (featuring Jeff Beck for some perplexing reason, but one mustn’t grumble) are all commanding, confident tracks, but this is where Colour Me Free takes a regrettable turn. A cover of Candi Staton’s ‘You Got The Love’ is totally superfluous and ‘I Believe It To My Soul’ is textbook Etta James cliché that not even a superb David Sanborn saxophone solo can save. Elsewhere, ‘Lady’ depicts Stone’s disturbing ‘I’m Nasty, Not Trashy’ struggle with her sexual urges (she’s legal now, it’s allowed).

‘Stalemate’ is entirely different, with lead vocals coming from Ben’s Brother frontman Jamie Hartman but it, too, packs no punch whatsoever and by the time Joss begs ‘Why don’t you look me in the eyes when we’re making love?’ on fuck-buddy lament ‘Girlfriend On Demand’, I’m well and truly out.

By starting her career with an album of covers (2003’s rather good The Soul Sessions), it was always going to be difficult for Stone’s own writing to match up to the great Motown songbook. What carries Colour Me Free is her ever-astonishing voice, which swiftly puts in their place any soulstresses to come along and vie for her Sexy Young Aretha crown.

Colour Me Free undoubtedly showcases Stone’s strongest self-penned material to date but –and here’s the conundrum – if I’m honest, I’d still rather hear her do a Jack White track.

Rating: 5 / 10
Artist Related Content

Latest Related Articles For This Artist

Introducing Joss Stone

For what it’s worth, this writer was never convinced by Joss Stone. Folk eulogised about old soul in a young body, but I always thought she was playing dress-up, in R&B clothes that didn’t fit yet.

REVIEW: 16 Mar 2007

Tell Me 'Bout It

This year’s Brits provided few moments of genuine horror, with the notable exception of Stone’s stupefying turn, who tottered around, sending out love to Robbie Williams in a god-awful trans-Atlantic accent and trying to upstage Amy Winehouse. A bad move and one that could single handily de-rail her comeback, which is a shame because ‘Tell Me ‘Bout It’ is a decent record, brimming with hip-hop attitude and Motown cool and perhaps the first real indication of what she could be capable of.

REVIEW: 05 Mar 2007

Joss Stone live at the RDS, Dublin

Even for someone with a voice as impressive as Joss Stone, the vastness of the RDS has tonight proved to be a step too far.

REVIEW: 12 Jan 2006

Joss Stone makes a date with Dublin

Joss Stone rounds off what’s been a fabulously successful year with a visit to the Dublin RDS.

News: 02 Sep 2005

Don't Cha Wanna Ride?

Erm, no thanks. Any record with the words ‘cha’ and ‘wanna’ in it...

REVIEW: 13 Jul 2005

best of ireland

Contact Us

Hot Press,
13 Trinity Street,
Dublin 2.
Rep. Of Ireland
Tel: +353 (1) 241 1500

Click here for more contact information.

Click here to find out more about Hot Press

Hot Press always welcomes feed back so if you've got something to tell us click here.

Advertise With Us

For more detail on how to advertise with Hot Press click here or call us on +353 (1) 241 1540