Then came 2007 and the release of her third studio full-length release, the deliberately titled Introducing Joss Stone (Virgin Records), the cover of which revealed her with a full head of cascading black and hot-pink hair extensions -- and nothing else, save for a pair of red stiletto pumps and a full-body Laugh In-style paint job with the words "love" and "change" scrawled down the back of each leg. Still sounds like Patti LaBelle -- now looks like Christina Aguilera.
So it turns out, if critics were shocked and amazed that Stone was so young, yet so old-school, they were right. Introducing Joss Stone is a wholly contemporary album. Far from the warm, vintage setting of her two previous efforts, Introducing obviously took a heavy hand from Stone and producer Raphael Saadiq (formerly of Tony! Toni! Ton!) in the studio. It's laden with hip-hop beats, new-school R&B vocal exercising (Saadiq has worked previously with Mary J. Blige and Kelis) and guest raps from Common and the notoriously reclusive Fugee Lauryn Hill. The collage of a record still includes nods to her own -- and R&B's -- early years. The track "Baby Baby Baby" is as sweet and soulful as any of the work by her dog's namesake, and "Girl, They Won't Believe It" quotes Aretha. If the first two albums were the work of an A student of classic soul, according to Stone, Introducing is her post-graduate work. Joss Stone: 3:45 p.m. Sun., May 6, Gentilly Stage