Ten years after recording her debut The Soul Sessions, and six albums in, Joss Stone has returned to the format which initially brought her attention: a set of soul-based covers, helmed by producer Steve Greenberg, with a talented backing band.
Stone's recent original albums have met with lukewarm enthusiasm, so heading back down the covers route is probably a wise move for her - she's got the pipes and the heart to sing like a soul great, she just doesn't write like them yet. The song selection is solid - The Chi-Lites and Womack & Womack sit next to Broken Bells' 2009 hit The High Road, and there's a variety of more obscure 70s and 80s songs that show Stone has done some digging.
Womack & Womack's Teardrops is given a swoony string-laden rework that's missing some of the snap and urgency of the original, and a couple of others (Stoned Out Of My Mind and Sideway Shuffle) sound like Stone going through the motions. Singing loud ain't the same thing as emotion. But on The Love We Had (an album highlight), and While You're Out Looking For Sugar she finds her soul switch.
The High Road is an interesting proposition, like her early White Stripes cover Fell In Love With A Boy. It's a striking, modern original that sounds entirely different as a soul song, but she makes it accomplished and appealing, if not quite genius.
Verdict: Solid soul covers that take a step up from her debut.
Buy The Soul Sessions Vol 2 by Joss Stone here