Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Joss Stone: The Soul Sessions [S-Curve, 2003]
Sounds like a well-brought-up twentysomething with a sharp band who writes forgettable originals and smothers covers in irrelevant shows of emotion, as on the endless and supposedly climactic Isleys' chestnut "For the Love of You." But as we all now know, there's a backstory. Band, check--Miami legends like Little Beaver and Timmy Thomas, with Miami legend Betty Wright calling the shots. But Stone isn't from Florida, she's from England, and the forgettables are covers too--the kind of soul marginalia Brits have been overrating since Doris Troy was on Apple. She's only 16, which explains the failed climax. And upon reflection she's not so well brought up, else why trade in Aretha's distinct melody for "All the King's Horses" on soul clichés? Norah Jones is herself, give her that. I hate to think what this phenom will have to go through to get that far. C+