Toots & the Maytals, Joss Stone
SXSW Live Shots
Photo By Mary Sledd
Toots & the Maytals, Joss StoneTown Lake Stage, Friday, March 19
With welcomed signs of spring and a picturesque skyline framing the Town Lake stage, Toots & the Maytals showered a mostly local crowd with a fine mist of reggae sensuality. As polished and energetic as ever, Toots Hibbert projected his raspy voice of wisdom through an array of reggae standards including "Pressure Drop," "Monkey Man," "Time Tough," and "Funky Kingston." While the syncopated edge of the Maytals' rhythms has blunted a bit over time, "Take Me Home, Country Road" still gets lifted into higher realms as Toots and company traipse it along the dirt paths of West Jamaica. Spanning nearly 40 years of island culture, the Maytals presented their interpretation of soul music with an ease that only comes from direct experience. In perfect contrast, young British singer Joss Stone filters once soulful sentiments through an overtrained voice of teenage perspective. While her blandish renditions of R&B gems such as "Torn and Tattered" certainly qualify as proficient, there's simply something wrong with someone younger than Jack White doing such a sanitized version of "Fell in Love With a Girl." Whether one would call her music pop, nu-soul, or even adult contemporary crizzap is probably irrelevant to those merely enjoying a relaxing evening on the lawn, but in light of Toots setting such a formidable precedent, a contrived intention certainly deserves to be identified as such.
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