Jill Scott - The Real Thing (2007)

Jill Scott
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When Jill Scott first stepped onto the scene with her debut CD, Who Is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds Vol. 1, she was a breath of fresh air in an industry overrun with cookie-cutter female emcees and so-called songstresses who weaved together sappy ballads of heartbreak.  Jill's mixture of spoken-word poetry, a smooth singing voice, and production courtesy of A Touch of Jazz made for some of the most honest and thought-provoking music not heard since  The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.  With her earth-tone features and Afro, she became the darling of the New Boho Movement.  A live disc soon followed and her sophomore effort, Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2 , produced the hits "Whatever" and the power anthem "Golden."  Indeed, it was all about "Jilly From Philly."  

When Jill Scott first stepped onto the scene with her debut CD, Who Is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds Vol. 1, she was a breath of fresh air in an industry overrun with cookie-cutter female emcees and so-called songstresses who weaved together sappy ballads of heartbreak.  Jill's mixture of spoken-word poetry, a smooth singing voice, and production courtesy of A Touch of Jazz made for some of the most honest and thought-provoking music not heard since  The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.  With her earth-tone features and Afro, she became the darling of the New Boho Movement.  A live disc soon followed and her sophomore effort, Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2 , produced the hits "Whatever" and the power anthem "Golden."  Indeed, it was all about "Jilly From Philly."  

The title to Jill's new CD, The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3, is an oxymoron.  Maybe it's due to Jill's recent and very public divorce or the role in Tyler Perry's upcoming film Why Did I Get Married that has distracted her from delivering a solid and focused CD.  "If I could give you the world/ on a silver platter/ would that even matter/ you'd still be mad at me" goes the intro to the first single "Hate On Me."  Listening to this track, you find yourself asking "Who's hating on Jill Scott and why?"  Last time I checked, the rumor mill and gossip columns failed to make any mention of her and as long as shock jock Wendy Williams isn't saying anything, everything should be okay, right?  

Make no mistake, Jill is a very talented singer/songwriter and past favorites like "A Long Walk" and "It's Love" are proof that she is capable of delivering great music.  On The Real Thing , Jill makes a departure from her smooth and soft style and moves into a much bigger, sassier groove that at times lacks depth and direction.  The organic feel that Andre Harris and Vidal Davis contributed on the first two discs have given way to a Pro Tools vibe and new associates, most notably JR Hutson.  The result is a collection of songs that sounds like everything else on the radio these days.  From this partnership, we are subjected to the double-entendres of "Crown Royal" which tries to hard to be abstract and erotic while coming off as silly and then there is "Celibacy Blues," an obvious filler track that has no business on this CD whatsoever.  Maybe Jill felt she needed a new direction or that she would gain a much bigger audience by altering the quality of her music.  Sometimes, it's best to stick to what works and what the fans have come to love from an artist of Jill's caliber.   

Every great artist is entitled to that one project that's strictly for fans only.  Madonna had American Life, Prince gave us Newpower Soul, and Michael Jackson was Invincible.  The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3 is not a bad album per se, but if you're just itching for some new Jill Scott, you have been warned.  Hopefully on the next edition of Words and Sounds we are entitled to that sound and essence from Jill that we all appreciate and admire.    

By Christopher Whaley 

 
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