"The Love We Had (Stays on My Mind)"
Released: 5 August 2013
The Soul Sessions Vol. 2 is the sixth studio album by English recording artist Joss Stone. It was released on 16 July 2012 by Stone's own independent label Stone'd Records and the label that released her first two albums, S-Curve Records. The album consists of eleven cover versions of '60s, '70s and '80s soul songs, in addition to a cover of a contemporary song, re-arranged into a soul song and is a follow-up to Stone's highly successful debut album The Soul Sessions (2003).
The album was recorded over two live recording sessions in New York City and Nashville. Stone stated, "I really had fun revisiting The Soul Sessions' idea and I'm really pleased with the results. I've committed long term to my label Stone'd Records, but it felt right to team up with Steve Greenberg and S-Curve again for this release. I think there are some great songs on the album and I loved performing them with such brilliant musicians."
On 6 June 2012, Stone performed a concert at the London music venue Under the Bridge, which was streamed online via Perez Hilton in the US and MSN for the rest of the world. During the concert Stone performed several new tracks from the album as well as previous material. Stone also promoted the album in the "Tastemakers" session of Billboard's website. Stone performed and was interviewed on the British television programme This Morning. On 27 July 2012, Stone appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
The Soul Sessions Vol. 2 received positive to mixed reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 60, based on 11 reviews, which indicates "mixed or average reviews".The Guardian's Dave Simpson described the album as "a powerful, heartfelt and classy comeback", claiming that Stone has "certainly returned to her debut's soul covers format in more mature and superb voice. Stone has always been a tremendous shouter, but has acquired a vulnerability and ability to truly inhabit emotional songs such as Eddie Floyd's 'I Don't Want to Be With Nobody But You' and the Dells' 'The Love We Had (Stays on My Mind)'." Hal Horowitz wrote for American Songwriter that "Stone's in fine, strutting voice but the sensitive hesitation of a new singer tackling soul gems ten years ago is replaced by confidence that leads to a tendency to oversing as her star has risen", calling the album "a pretty terrific [...] listen that proves the UK singer is serious about her classic American R&B". John Aizlewood of BBC Music viewed The Soul Sessions Vol. 2 as "Stone's most focused and rewarding album since Vol 1".The Washington Times commented that "the nine years that separate this record from its predecessor make all the difference, and the new Miss Stone—grown-up, jaded, even a little bit angry—no longer sounds like an experiment. There's genuine fire in Miss Stone's voice, a supersized alto that huffs and puffs like a steam engine during the album's faster moments."
In a review for the Evening Standard, Pete Clark opined that Stone "hits her stride with an almost comparable version of Womack and Womack's incomparable 'Teardrops' and a take on the Broken Bells' 'The High Road', much enlivened by mini-HendrixErnie Isley on guitar."The Independent's Nick Coleman dubbed the album "high-class karaoke", adding that "[g]irl's got taste. And, as ever, she convinces most at the blowtorch end of her range."Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine concluded that "for the most part, The Soul Sessions, Vol. 2 does feel right: it has the form and sound of classic soul while never acknowledging that R&B continued to develop past, say, 1972. For an audience that agrees with that thesis, this is fun." Hermione Hoby of The Observer expressed that "though [Stone's] mighty voice is technically irreproachable throughout, every track is attacked with all the timidity of a tsunami—enough to prompt the peevish complaint that force and feeling are not the same thing."Slant Magazine's Jonathan Keefe found that "Stone's strict adherence to formula plays against her here, as Vol. 2 feels overly familiar", stating that "[t]here's certainly no faulting any of the arrangements [...] But as was the case on the original Soul Sessions, the emphasis is on recreating a vintage R&B vibe rather than looking to classic styles as a source of inspiration for something more contemporary or creative." He continued, "What carries the album [...] are Stone's performances, which highlight her development into a singer of real grit and depth." Despite noting that Stone "has the kind of river-deep-mountain-high pipes that these songs would seem to be made for", Entertainment Weekly's Kyle Anderson argued that "as long as the original recordings by the Chi-Lites and the Rolling Stones continue to exist, Sessions' covers are passionately pointless."Rolling Stone's Jody Rosen felt that Stone's "musical instincts are off, and she steamrolls nearly every song with her bombastic blues growl."
The Soul Sessions Vol. 2 debuted at number six on the UK Albums Chart on sales of 8,414 copies, Stone's first top ten album in the UK since Mind Body & Soul (2004). In the United States, the album debuted at number ten on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 24,000 copies, becoming her fourth top ten album on the chart. In continental Europe, the album reached the top five in the Netherlands and Switzerland, and the top ten in Austria and Germany.