Quiet as it’s kept, one of the Queens of NeoSoul released an album last week and it would be great if it received as much press as two rappers getting into their feelings over ghost-written (or not, who knows in this industry anymore?) tracks mastered to accrue attention to drive sales.
Jill Scott is bringing us back to love and cohesion with ‘Woman,’ her fifth album since she stepped onto the scene and soothed our souls and ears with “You Got Me” (let’s not forget that she co-wrote it even though Eve and E. Badu performed it).
Jill has always been one of the artists that I admire most because, despite fad changes in the industry, she always stays true to who she is musically and always brings the heat when releasing something new whether it’s solo or with another artist. She also is unique because of her reluctance to let go of her acoustic roots – most of her songs on any of her albums feature acoustic instruments from trombones to drums to pianos – how often do you hear anything other than a beat machine or a keyboard in popular music? I rest my case.
‘Woman’ is yet another testament to her skill as a vocalist, woman, and songwriter with down-to-earth lyricism and a wittiness that doesn’t let us forget that, while she is a Queen, she won’t forget where she came from – and won’t let you forget either.
The introduction, a beautiful spoken word piece that brings a comforting peace to her listeners through a statement to the “Wild Cookie,” to whom the poem is addressed. She reminds these women, swayed by their own shortcomings and others who can’t seem to respect the Queen in them, that they deserve more and to just take a minute, take a seat, and listen to Sister Jill – she’ll get you right.
“I mean you can get a couple of things but things are things, And I deserve to feel my heart ring”
The second track is reminiscent of the roots diva we all love, but it doesn’t prepare you for the energy of the third song, “Run Run Run” – if you ever needed a reminder that most of popular music began with Negro Spirituals, this is one of the more modern reflections (minus the despair and such, of course) with its choir-like chorus and intense mood.
I, myself, am a fan of funky NeoSoul, so the following track took hold of my attention with its heavy bass-line and mellow vocals. Titled “Can’t Wait,” it sounds like the way you feel after a long day of work, stepping into the door, removing your shoes from your aching feet, looking up, and seeing your significant other ready for you to come sit next to them to unwind with the troubles of the day left outside of the door. If “Can’t Wait” is the feeling of getting home to your other half, “Light House” is almost like the continuation of that sentiment, seeing the equal weariness in a loved one’s eyes and wanting to soothe and protect them from whatever may have bothered them throughout the day. Uplifting and affirming of the strength of having a strong woman as a foundation, the song is a breath of fresh air from the egoism pervading the airwaves today.
With “Fool’s Gold,” she nods to the Wild Cookies, showing her understanding of being in a dead-end relationship with a Fool and taking the leap of faith to leave it, afterwards realizing that it was holding her back from enjoying life and creating her own happiness. Almost as if responding to the Fool, the “Willing” interlude is too real. You have to listen to it yourself because there are no words other than Jill’s that can do it justice. *Snap Snap*
“Closure,” the eighth track, is easily one of my favorites. It’s empowerment for the Cookies and any woman who has had enough of a man overusing a revolving door to a giving woman’s heart and home. What makes it so creative is her use of lyrical imagery: they say that food is the way to a man’s heart and it seems that food is what her Fool kept using to push the door back open and dizzy up her head.
Skipping to the eleventh track, “Cruisin’,” you can find another one of my favorites – a smooth, but upbeat rhythm detailing that feeling we’re all familiar with: the fear of getting too involved with someone, wondering if we’re going too fast, but telling yourself to calm down and “cruise in the evening breeze.”
“Say Thank You” inclines me to believe that Jill is a Kendrick Lamar fan – it is teeming with “To Pimp A Butterfly”-esque audio (because who didn’t make it a point to hear his poetic recitation in full?) and is more spoken than sung. The guitar solo addition was a surprise but fell in tune with the climate of the album, resounding with the track’s sentiment of subdued irritation and controlled – but intense- emotion: feelings that tend to come before breakthroughs, which is what the next song hits us with, laden with melodies of gratitude and appreciation after a troubling time has occurred.
Another album favorite (OK, so I have a lot of album favorites – it’s Jill Scott – how can you not like it?), “Coming To You,” is also lively and really vibes with the message Jill always stands firmly in: always pushing forward, shedding the negative and the old, and being there to support loved ones. It pitter-pats into “Jahraymecofasola” – a song that sounds like it’s going to be played at someone’s wedding this summer. It teems with the glittering of love that onlookers can see in a couple’s eyes when the love and appreciation is in sheer abundance and they are simply oblivious to the world.
“People look up at me and ooouuuuh they think that I’m a star. But it’s all because the love you give to me it made me who I are”
BJ the Chicago Kid accompanies her on a duet, “Beautiful Love,” to close the album and it is absolutely, hands down…another one of my favorites. I would recommend listening to this track first, listening to the first through fifteenth tracks, and then ending with this track as it should – it’s just that peaceful and, I feel, epitomizes the album.
All in all, Jill has really grown and it shines. With “Back Together” dedicated to her son, Jet, and her continued dedication to empowering women through soulful music, Jilly from Philly has really stayed true to who she is as a woman, musical artist, lyricist, and public figure.
Something tells me that we can only continue to hear better music from this magnificent woman as the years progress and I can’t wait to see (and hear) what’s next. Until then, we get to mellow out to ‘Woman’ and ‘Golden Moments’ (her recently released remasters) which will both provide the soulful invigoration that I know that we are all in dire need of.
Jill Scott won't let heartbreak keep her on the ground and overall growth shows in all facets of her music8
Production score 8
Lyrics score 9
Composition score 8