Joss Stone, "Colour Me Free"

64 Billboard Rating

On "Free Me," the lead single from Joss Stone's fourth studio album, "Colour Me Free," the U.K. singer indirectly addresses critics who've suggested that her sound isn't wholly original. "There's nothing that you can't do/'Cause it's all about your attitude/Don't let them get to you," she growls assertively on the track. The notion that swagger trumps all seems to have guided Stone throughout her career-and it's no different on "Colour Me Free." She continues to hit each note with the precise amount of retro pomp that one would expect, and there are again moments when the '70s soul love affair gets a little carried away. The arrangement of the song "Parallel Lines" is every bit like Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground," and the protest "Governmentalist" (featuring rapper Nas) may as well be about Vietnam. Elsewhere, the sublime track "Big Ole Game" (featuring fellow soul revivalist Raphael Saadiq) almost sounds like an old Al Green recording. But what's the harm in that? --Monica Herrera