British soul sensation Joss Stone is no longer between a rock and a hard place.
Her new album, Colour Me Free, on EMI Records, (released in October) has received critical praise. She’s got a European tour scheduled for February and she hopes to tour North America later in the year. All good news after 2009, when the feisty 22-year-old singer publicly tried to parachute from her record deal — to no avail — and had her album release delayed for half a year.
“Music is how I get things out. My songs are a reflection of my emotions. I write about everything, when I’m p—ed off, frustrated or in love,” she explained over the phone from her home in Devon, England.
Colour Me Free was written and recorded in a week in early 2008 at her mum’s live music club, Mama Stone’s. Warm, organic and rootsy, the 12 songs have a vintage ’60s soul feel, peppered with contemporary stylings. An all-star lineup of guests includes guitarist Jeff Beck, drummer Sheila E., singer-songwriter and producer Raphael Saadiq, and rapper Nas.
“It was a gorgeous day and I really wanted to make an album. My writing partners Jon (Shorten) and Conner (Reeves) thought I was crazy. The band flew in the next day. We brought in some recording equipment and made it up as we went along,” said Stone.
The first two tracks, Free Me and Could Have Been You, are outstanding. “I wrote Could Have Been You when I was 15. I asked Jon and Conner to help me finish it. Most of the other songs evolved just by trying sounds out with the band. It was really fun. We didn’t use any structure or formula,” she said.
Her most challenging accomplishment in 2009 took place on the small screen. In the fall, The Tudors TV show featured Stone as German noblewoman Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII’s fourth wife. Henry found Anne so repulsive he decided not to consummate the marriage.
“I like her not,” he declared. Hard to believe with the glowing Stone cast in the part, but then drama is all about a willing suspension of disbelief.
Stone gamely adopted a German accent for the role, and recalled, “Anne kept her head, she lived through it. Henry gave her a castle and lots of cash. They became quite good friends. Her ugliness saved her life.”
Between writing songs with her band, and doing press for her new album, Stone spent the holidays with her family in Devon. She even had them all over to her house for Christmas dinner. What did she serve?
“Roasted nut loaf. I’m a vegetarian, although I’d serve turkey if anybody wanted it,” she said.