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Review: Joss Stone's latest needs some fire

Joss Stone, "LP1" (Stone'd Records/Surfdog Records)
/ Source: The Associated Press

Joss Stone, "LP1" (Stone'd Records/Surfdog Records)

"Mmm-mmms" can carry a song but so far. Besides, that particular vocal trick only works on R&B tracks if you pour a lot of soul into those throaty stylings. Otherwise, you end up with the sometimes soulless offerings of Joss Stone's fifth CD, "LP1."

Ever since her debut album, "The Soul Sessions," came out in 2003 expectations have been high for Stone, partly because she landed with a winner — even though it was a CD of R&B covers — but mostly because she showed an enormous talent that teased of great vocal outings to come.

Her talent is still huge and her voice still big, rich, raspy and emotional. So what went wrong on "LP1"?

Maybe it's the curse of the title: Obviously, it's not her first album, so if she's telling us this is a do-over (and she does have a new label and new producer, former Eurythmics Dave Stewart) then she'd better deliver large.

Stone does deliver on the lyrics, which are considerably edgy and mature, and centered on renewal and freedom. It's the music, though, that needs some juice. There is no fire, no emotional core to pump the blood and rock us out. She needs rounder, more textured sounds to illumine a voice that reaches from a gospel growl to a plaintive sweetness.

She opens with "Newborn," a guitar-infused edgy tale that sets the tone, pleading to treat the day "like a newborn baby" who needs to be cared for: "What happened to this morning when I woke up hung over? ... Everybody's taking care of themselves/But not no one else. ... We're stiffening our love."

Later, she tries to tear it up with "Don't Start Lying to Me Now" and the anthem-like "Boatyard." But Chad Cromwell's rhythms intrude with an almost drum-kit quality.

Still, "LP1" is worth a listen just to hear Stone's remarkable voice. But it will leave you wanting much more — just not from "LP1."

CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: "Landlord" serves up a smooth blues guitar with a steamy invitation from a landlord to the guy who lives downstairs. Let's just say he doesn't need to worry about rent.