Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Divorcing Neo 2 Marry Soul

Jay-Z's Unplugged sidekick fronts a smart, sexy R&B album

With props and backup work from the Roots and Jay-Z and a boost from a Coca-Cola ad, Jaguar Wright's 2002 debut sold respectably. But this is where she gets to prove she's more than an intelligent sidekick, and, unlike so many given that chance, she nails it. In real life the married mother of two children, she's happy to voice that perspective. But she has the imagination and commercial hunger to assume less settled personas--casually mistreated in "Timing," gold-digging and proud in "One More Drink," eager to get down to bizness in "My Place." Also, Wright doesn't equate songwriting with atmospherics. These tunes aren't quite hooky and probably shouldn't be. But they have definition, and she's singer enough to make each one stand and assert itself.

Blender, Aug. 2005