For more than a decade, Joss Stone has been a serial genre-hopper. Switching from R&B to blues, funk to rock, the 28-year-old Brit has powered six albums with soulful vocals beyond her years, attracting stars like Raphael Saadiq and Questlove to collaborate. Seventh LP Water for Your Soul is yet another pivot, into soul-splashed reggae indebted to Damien Marley, Stone's bandmate in all-star group SuperHeavy (along with Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart and A.R. Rahman), who encouraged her to embrace the sound and assisted with production.
The songs are technically impressive, as expected from Stone, but unconvincing. She apes patois (on the bopping "Cut the Line") and even Barrington Levy's signature "skippity bop" (on "Harry's Symphony") in wince-worthy fashion. During past genre swings, a real personality, a deeper common thread, has never revealed itself, and that's the case here once again. Stone is clearly still finding her sound and, if Water is any indication, herself, too.