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Joss Stone

Introducing Joss Stone (Virgin)

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The coming-of-age-young-urban-starlet is a wondrous thing to behold, isn't it? Well, no, not usually -- since in this day and age, we associate her with multiple piercings of the nether regions, embarrassingly out-of-it public appearances, and the urge to dry-hump everything in sight. Given all that, the coming-out party for 19-year-old British vocalist Joss Stone, featuring album number three, is relatively sedate -- but only intermittently more satisfying.

When she and producer Raphael Saadiq hit, they hit big, pushing tempos beyond hip-hop's usual BPM. Songs like "Put Your Hands on Me" and "Girl They Won't Believe It" draw direct links to Motown, even as they maintain a contemporary sheen. At those moments, Introducing sounds like it's the bridge between neo-soul and modern R&B. But over the course of these 14 tracks, the sex eventually outlasts the melodies, leaving Stone's big, boisterous voice to broadcast her new self too much and too often.

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