Britain has produced a steady stream of big-voiced, soulful female singers in the last decade or so, from Amy Winehouse to Duffy, Adele to Paloma Faith and more. Stone was where this stream began though, and her debut lp The Soul Sessions, released in 2003 when she was just 16 years old and made with a legendary line-up of soul artists, seemed to herald the arrival of a major artist who was capable of fusing retro influences with a wholly contemporary edge. And then along came the aforementioned Winehouse et al… and some of her thunder seemed to have been stolen.
That said, she still became a multi-platinum artist, not to mention one of Britain’s richest musicians so she can’t be doing that bad. One can’t help get the feeling though that her career never quite hit the stride it should have and maybe this is at least in part because she has never quite found a style that suited her quite as well as the soul music styling of her first two albums, to date still her biggest selling records. Even SuperHeavy her super group collaboration with Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart failed to set the world alight in the way maybe all concerned hoped it would.
‘The Answer’ is the lead single from her forthcoming album Water For Your Soul and features yet another major collaborator in the form of British reggae legend Dennis Bovell. It’s a joyful sounding musical mish-mash, combining elements and influences from calypso to folk to Asian music and beyond, something that is openly reflected in the video. Indeed, at times it almost sounds like there might be a bit too much going on and as a result the whole thing maybe lacks a clear sense of identity. There’s no denying that it has some sort of infectious groove going on though and it’s hard to knock a record that’s making such an effort to be so utterly positive and uplifting. However, I also can’t help feel that maybe Stone would be better off finding a more definite musical surrounding for her clearly wonderful voice.
Water For Your Soul is released on the 31st of July.