In 2003, I heard a track from a new album by a young British singer, Joss Stone. I thought her voice sounded amazing, and I was very surprised to discover she was only 16 years old. I asked about it in a record shop, and was told the debut release was called ‘The Soul Sessions’. It was an album of song covers, with the originals recorded by a diverse assortment of singers and groups. It covered everything from Waylon Jennings, to Aretha Franklin and The Isley Brothers. I bought a copy, wondering if she had been too bold to take on such giants of the industry.
But I needn’t have worried. Right from the start, I heard that she was up to the task. And track two kept the good feeling going.
Track three was her version of a more modern song, the White Stripes hit from 2001.
By track six, she was all the way back to 1967, with a song I remembered from The Soul Bothers Six.
Her good taste extended to track eight, with a wonderful ballad written and recorded by John Sebastian.
Track ten finished off the CD with a great (almost-accapella) version of the Isley Bothers hit, ‘For The Love Of You’.
I played the whole thing again, straight away.
The following year, it won The Mercury Music Prize, for Best New Album.
Joss is still very much around on the scene. As well as releasing six more albums, she turned to acting too, with well-received parts in TV series like ‘The Tudors’ on BBC, and the film ‘Eragon’.