Review : Joss Stone - LP1
PopmattersThat should really come as no surprise to her fans. From the wise-beyond-her-years debut, 2003’s The Soul Sessions, to the overt jab at her now-former record label, EMI, Colour Me Free, the 24-year-old songstress has always been sure to wear her emotions on her English sleeve. It’s become expected of her to offer emotionally charged, oftentimes-raw performances on her albums, albums that are typically filled with a modern day mix of inspiring soul and rhythm & blues, mind you.
But this time around, on LP1, the first release on her Stone’d Records imprint, Stone is missing the key element of why she has been so lauded over the course of her increasingly mature career: A groove. In fact, her latest release lacks so much of a groove, it would be safe to say the singer has almost completely abandoned her soulful roots altogether. Forget Aretha Franklin, Etta James or Dusty Springfield. With LP1, Joss Stone is trying her best to channel Melissa Etheridge, Sass Jordan, or even… gulp… Kelly Clarkson.
The result is disappointing. It’s low-rent. It’s unexpected. And most of all, it seems like something Joss Stone was previously above. Taking a turn toward rock music wasn’t a turn she needed to take. An acoustic guitar and bland rhythms simply won’t do when you once recorded the powerful kiss off “You Had Me” or the enormously sexy “Put Your Hands on Me”. And pop-rock hooks seem like child’s play when compared to the infectious bounce of “Tell Me ‘Bout It” or the Steely Dan meets Earth, Wind & Fire soul of “Incredible” or “You Got the Love”....full text
PastemagazineFor Portugal. The Man, producing their forthcoming album In the Mountain In the Cloud was no easy task. According to frontman John Gourley, the band had some serious difficulties getting together to produce the record.
“It was honestly a mess, it was just a total mess,” Gourley explains. “The band wasn’t communicating and I wasn’t expecting that to come right away. But we were just in and out of the studio, whoever was working, we’d work for hours but it was just pretty much one person at a time and we weren’t really talking about it. It wasn’t because we hated each other or anything, it’s just we hang out everyday. It just got to that point where we needed some space.”
Coming from a member of a band which created their last release American Ghetto in just 10 days, the struggle in the studio came as a definite switch in momentum. From great conflict came serious progress, as the band regrouped to produce what is now In the Mountain In the Cloud—a seamless and innovative release from a group who has put out an album every year for the past five years. It transitions through dreamy tracks like “Sleep Forever” into catchy rock numbers such as “Got It All (This Can’t Be Living Now),” continuing to show that no matter how much material they put out or how much trouble they have, Portugal. The Man can still break musical boundaries with every release.
MusicAlaska's Portugal. The Man's sixth studio album suffers some unexpected growing pains, as they deliver their first major label after signing to Atlantic Records last year. Perhaps feeling pressure to take their blend of soul and psychedelic rock to another level, the quartet clutters up a handful of tracks here with some unnecessary orchestral arrangements. Thankfully, it is a momentary lapse on an otherwise excellent effort from one of the most interesting bands around.
The violins sweeping through the backdrop of strummy rock sing-along "So American" sap some energy from John Gourley's hauntingly searing tenor. Guitars feel a little lighter than you want them on "Got It All (This Can't Be Living Now)", where they are left in the distance in favor of the lush strings, but Gourley's wailing tenor, sizzling out of the speakers, saves the day on the gooey rocker. They strike a much better balance on full-bodied stunner "Sleep Forever", where the mellow melodic bliss of the vocals floats effortlessly through the soul-drenched guitar and jabbing strings.
Anti-aging ballad "Floating (Time Isn't Working On My Side)" finds the pleading vocals at home with the chilled sway of guitars spiraling toward the soaring conclusion, while the strings are largely buried beneath the organ and drums. The buzzing waltz of bass and guitar over jangling piano on "Senseless" work brilliantly with the melodic flow of the vocals, while the jittery riffs and tambourine laced beat of "You Carried Us (All You See)" and piano and distorted guitar stomp and roll on "All Your Light (Times Like These)" are great examples of how haunting Gourley's voice can be....full text
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