Release Date: Jun 21, 2011
Record label: Blues Babe Records
Genre(s): R&B, Soul, Urban, Smooth Soul
It's impossible not to root for Jill Scott. The 'Illa- delphian R&B vet is a self-described "grande dame queen beast" in a genre of models, putting her often-messy personal struggles right up front. The Light of the Sun, Scott's first disc since splitting up with her (now-ex) drummer, recalls that relationship with jazzy, good-natured candor on "Quick." Elsewhere, Scott assays life back on the market in her trademark warm and inviting, if rarely thrilling, neo-soul style – from the old-school hip-hop jam "Shame," which excoriates a man who didn't want her, to the jazz poem "Womanifesto," an ode to her "strong legs that stroll off the 33 bus" and desire for "the rhythm of my space." Scott proves it's a nice place to spend time.
Jill Scott represents the modern thinking woman’s evolved boho grit and dreams. Not one to buy into the fairy tales, she refuses to surrender the notion that life can be sweet—even as she throws down a gauntlet of how it is and how it’s gonna be over a patchwork of spoken word, lush balladry, hip-hop, funk and sleek grooves. Scott opens with the in-the-moment “Blessed,” which is as much reportage and witness to her state of life as it is a string and percussion track that gently undulates beneath her boiled wool and sunshine alto flutter before leaning down thick.
Jill Scott's fourth album opens with the Philly-born R&B singer, poet and actor in the recording studio. "This is the last take of the night," she declares on Blessed, a jazzy ode to the post-relationship meltdown and post-legal drama that erupted when she split with her old label, Hidden Beach. (She's since started her own imprint through a deal with Warner.) The line perfectly distills the lively improvisational vibe that pervades the ensuing 15 songs, in which Scott pours out a self-affirming stream of autobiographical lyrics over a range of timeless beats, melodies and genres (hip-hop, spoken word, R&B, Broadwayish ballads).
Since last releasing an album in 2007, Philadelphia neo-soul singer Jill Scott has divorced, been left by her subsequent partner and had a baby, all of which have left their mark on this pained but triumphant record. Having long preached resilience and self-empowerment, she's now practising them, turning bruising experiences into uplifting sung-spoken pieces about being down but never out. Musically, she dips into jazz, hip-hop, funk and soul, satisfyingly adapting each to her elegant vocals.
Jill Scott has been through many changes since 2007's The Real Thing: Words & Sounds, Vol. 3: a divorce, a brief but intense love affair that produced a child, acting roles in Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? and Hounddog, her starring role in HBO's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and signing with Warner Bros. The Light of the Sun is a record of the rocky road to empowerment.
The street-wise Philly ? soulstress has spent more time lately on acting than on music. (She ? traveled to Botswana to play the lead on HBO’s The No. 1 ? Ladies’ Detective Agency.) Here, though, she returns to R&B like she never left: With its earnest introspection and earthy ? textures — not to mention guest spots by Eve and Anthony Hamilton — The Light of the Sun has a distinctly early-aughties vibe, recalling an era when tempos were slower and voices less Auto-Tuney.
On The Light of the Sun, her first album divorced from longtime label Hidden Beach Records, Jill Scott returns to find the neo-soul landscape now dominated by fresh, young eccentrics like Janelle Monáe and Frank Ocean. Measured against this new class of R&B firebrands, the Philadelphia chanteuse sounds positively lackluster and dated on the album’s overwrought opener “Blessed.” And she doesn’t fare much better on the album’s lead single, “So In Love,” a repetitive trifle featuring Anthony Hamilton that sounds tailor-made for supermarket loudspeakers. Fortunately, The Light of the Sun‘s third track, “Shame,” initiates a course of winning experiments that presents a restless Scott at her most sonically ambitious.
The Billboard charts are now officially impossible to predict. Jill Scott hadn’t released a new album in nearly four years. She had parted ways with her record label, was busy starring in an HBO series, and saw tourmate Maxwell cancel the second leg of their tour in 2010. Taking into account the fact that Scott has never had an LP hit the top of the charts, surely there was no way her brand-new album, The Light of the Sun, could hope to land at number one.
JILL SCOTT “The Light of the Sun” (Warner Brothers) “Womanifesto,” the title of a song-poem on Jill Scott’s fourth studio album, “The Light of the Sun,” could apply to her entire catalog. Ms. Scott’s songs are proudly and forthrightly feminine, and they set out to persuade and motivate. “Grown woman, making decisions and choices,” she calls herself, “Utilizing everything inside of me — my soul, my heart, my mind, my voices.” The intimate and the instructive are never far apart for Ms.
A lovely, bittersweet album that celebrates the joy of life. Daryl Easlea 2011 The Light of the Sun feels like the sort of album made by someone who’s busy doing something else: in Jill Scott’s case her acting, bringing up her child and recovering from a broken heart. This doesn’t mean, however, that it feels as if her music is taking second place to all these other matters.