A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that despite some jaw-dropping album art, 19-year-old Joss Stone has made a record that's full of sweet and non-explicit songs about the adult subject matters of love and relationships. The songs are generally light and poppy, probably not raunchy enough for the urban radio audience, and perhaps a bit light for the classic soul crowd. Guest artists include Common and Lauryn Hill.
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What's the story?
The artwork of INTRODUCING JOSS STONE -- photos on the cover and in the liner notes of the 19-year-old, naked and slathered in psychedelic body paint and intertwined with producer Raphael Saadiq, also naked -- are misleading. Despite the lascivious images, this album is full of songs that offer a relatively mild take on love and relationships, particularly by the standards of modern R&B. Much like the classic soul songs she belted out on her first two albums, Stone's lyrics -- she wrote or co-wrote all but one song -- reside in that vague area that can be flirtatious and alluring without being explicit or specific. For example, in \"Tell Me 'Bout It.\" Stone talks about making love to her man, but doesn't get more explicit than, \"If I could do the things I want to you/You'd be changing all your plans.\"
Is it any good?
Stone may win points with parents for eschewing the explicit, but she clearly has yet to embrace the craft of songwriting. The album seems a bit wispy to win over the classic soul crowd, as songs like "Bruised But Not Broken" are more throw-away ballads than heart-wrenching tales of hurt. But she's on the right path: moving toward her own sound, linking (sonically) with the multi-talented Saadiq, and learning to use the full power of her voice, which sounds older and wiser than her years. This girl can sing her tail off -- she just needs the life experiences with which to fill her diary.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Stone's decision to take the reins of her career at an early age. The British chanteuse's first two records were heavily managed affairs, but this time, Stone co-wrote and co-produced the whole album, keeping everyone at bay during the recording process. When is the right time for a teen to seek independence? How do you know when a child is capable of making smart choices? When is it a good idea for others to manage your career?