Jill Scott: The Real Thing

Jill Scott is one of my favorite contemporary singers. Her soulful voice can hit subtle, gentle notes or belt outrageous, operatic vocals; behind that voice are lyrics that are both intimate, internal dialogues and calls for social justice, both playful and sensual. Her previous two albums–Who is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds Vol. 1 and Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2–utilized her trademark lyricism, yet this album sees Scott wandering in newer territory. This album is definitely a couple’s album; this is music about the ecstasies and tribulations of relationships, the hope and hollowness of sex.

The eponymous track starts off with Scott asserting her dominance as a woman while rebuking her objectification by men behind a churning guitar and trumpets. However, the track pales in comparison to the explosive first single “Hate on Me” whereon she attacks those bitter and jealous of her success.

Yet, these two up-tempo jams are somewhat misleading as to the remainder of the album. “Come See Me” is an alluring track where Scott purrs “I can hardly stay in my skin” as she excitedly waits for a lover.

“Crown Royal” is a cool, hypnotic song, layered by Scott’s sensual voice over erotic lyrics like “Your hands on my hips pull me right back to you / I catch that thrust give it right back to you / You’re in so deep I’m breathing for you.” Unfortunately, this superb song is too short, clocking in at 1 minute 48 seconds.

“Epiphany” continues the sexual theme featuring some of the most sexually charged lyrics. In the hands of a lesser singer it would sound silly and garish, yet Scott’s seriousness and control tempers the wild lyrics into a slow jam reminiscent of a spoken word poem.

Heartbreak dominates the next song “My Love” as she pines for a man that married another woman as they dated. She wonders “You chose her cause / She’s sweet as pie / Takes what you give / Even your lies / But baby are you happy?”

The restlessness after a break-up comes as Scott languishes in the morning on “Insomnia.” “How It Makes You Feel” is a lesson to an unfaithful lover about the true nature of relationships as she inquires: “Tell me how you’d feel if I was gone?” and “What if, poof, every black woman in the world disappeared?”

“Only You” is a haunting track as Scott’s heartfelt voice echo in the background, which precede the upbeat “Whenever You’re Around” in which she relishes the company of a good man.

“Celibacy Blues” mixes the vibe of an old blues song with the annoyance of situational celibacy. Ironically, the mellow track is followed by the sensual “All I” (my personal favorite song on the album) in which she finally reveals her yearnings to a lover: “Every time I close my eyes all I dream about is making love / I can’t even sleep at night / All I think about is making love to you.”

“Wanna Be Loved” is an honest song featuring some of Scott’s most convincing vocals where she admits all she really wants is love.

The CD ends with the airy and confident “Breathe,” featuring Scott rapping proficiently about her musical prowess and confidence in her femininity.

The only flaw in the album is the production. The background music is tame, though tolerable, but offers nothing to accentuate the song. It’s as if the instrumentalists backed off and let Scott do all the work. Still, the album is a beautiful work; a worthy addition to the pair of Scott’s Grammy nominated albums.

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