★½

Remember when Joss Stone was considered the coolest soul singer of her generation? No, me neither. The UK performer has always suffered something of a credibility problem, but now, more than a decade since her debut The Soul Sessions, perhaps it’s time to reassess.

Water For Your Soul opens with the sound of musicians plugging in and tuning up in a studio. It feels live and loose and immediate – for all of 30 seconds. Then we get some super slick guitar chords and a drum machine beat. Wait a minute – is this reggae? Good Lord, she’s gone and done a reggae album. And frankly, not a very good one.

 

All the usual reggae tropes are here: ‘Way Oh’ comes off like a parody piece, and there’s a song in ode of smoking weed called ‘Sensimilla’. Stone tries a cod Jamaican accent on ‘Clean Water’ while on ‘Harry’s Symphony’ she asks the subject, “Where’s your weed at? / Tell me you’re not a joker smoker”.

 

Collaborations with Damian Marley and Dennis Bovell fail to save this record, which also features African flavours and saccharine ‘We Are The World’ sentiments.

 

The whole thing feels as authentic as your mum in a Rasta hat and fake dreadlocks asking, “Where the wacky baccy at?”

Joss Stone’s Water For Your Soul is out throught Kobalt.

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