Album review: Joss Stone's 'Colour Me Free'
Yet here we have the second album in a row on which Stone declares her unwillingness to conform to anyone else's creative vision. In 2007, after a pair of tidy retro-R&B efforts, came the more free-spirited "Introducing Joss Stone," with a title that spoke for itself.
Two years later, the first track on "Colour Me Free" makes it clear that Stone still feels hemmed- in: "Don't tell me that I won't/ I can," she sings over a bass-heavy funk groove, "Don't tell me that I'm not/ I am." Beneath the sleek surfaces of Stone's work rage the stormy waters of self-definition.
In a strange twist, Stone produced "Colour Me Free" -- physical copies of which her American label is selling exclusively through Target -- with Jonathan Shorten and Connor Reeves, both of whom contributed to Stone's 2004 disc, "Mind, Body & Soul." That means, of course, that she's now collaborating with the very oppressors who necessitated her reintroduction in 2007. Tricky stuff, record-industry rebellion.
Whatever its convoluted back story, "Colour Me Free" succeeds about as well as Stone's other records: It's quite good in the up-tempo bits -- check out "Big Ole Game," featuring the incomparable Raphael Saadiq -- and a little soggy in the ballads.
-- Mikael Wood
"Colour Me Free"
Two and a half stars (Out of four)
Photo: Joss Stone at Coachella in 2009. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times