On the cover of her debut, The Soul Sessions, Joss Stone's face is obscured by a vintage microphone, a deliberate move that emphasized the retro-soul vibe of the LP while hiding the youthful face that would have given away that Stone was a mere 16 years old at the time of the album's release. The point was to put the music before the image and it worked, selling the album to an older audience that might have stayed away, thinking that the teenager sang teen pop. If the debut was designed to give Stone credibility, her second album, Mind, Body & Soul, delivered almost exactly a year after its predecessor, is designed to make her a superstar, broadening her appeal without losing sight of the smooth, funky, stylish soul at the core of her sound. There's no radical revision here -- she still works with many of the same musicians she did on The Soul Sessions, including Betty Wright and Little Beaver -- but there are some subtle shifts in tone scattered throughout the record. Certain songs are a little brighter and a little more radio-ready than before, there's a more pronounced hip-hop vibe to some beats, and she sounds a little more like a diva this time around -- not enough to alienate older fans, but enough to win some new ones. The album has a seductive, sultry feel; there's some genuine grit to the rhythms, yet it's all wrapped up in a production that's smooth as silk. By and large, the songs are good, too, sturdily written and hooky, growing in stature with each play. While Stone has developed a tendency to over-sing ever so slightly -- she doesn't grandstand like the post-Mariah divas, but she'll fit more notes than necessary into the simplest phrases -- she nevertheless possesses a rich, resonant voice that's a joy to hear. She may not yet have the set of skills, or the experience, to give a nuanced, textured performance -- one that feels truly lived-in, not just sung -- but she's a compelling singer and Mind, Body & Soul lives up to her promise.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine