Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Jill Scott

  • Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 [Hidden Beach, 2000] ***
  • Beautifully Human [Hidden Beach, 2004] A-
  • Collaborations [Hidden Beach, 2007] ***
  • The Real Thing [Hidden Beach, 2007] A-
  • The Light of the Sun [Blues Babe/Warner Bros., 2011] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 [Hidden Beach, 2000]
Too classy for me, I figured, but she's nicer, funnier, and sexier than that--and too young for me isn't her fault ("Exclusively," "Love Rain"). ***

Beautifully Human [Hidden Beach, 2004]
A smart cookie, and emotionally stable to boot (cf. Mary, Macy, etc.), a virtue you assume boring at your developmental peril. Rarely do the settings distinguish themselves, and once she tries to get her honey's attention deploying a big band when she'd have been better off with more funk lite. But a distinct voice delivering noticeable verbal content is a setting too--that's why you notice the content. Anyway, the words per se could carry "Family Reunion," not to mention "My Petition," which accuses a suitor of abrogating her civil liberties like some Bushie. Aimed at Scott's kind of guy, that smarts. A-

Collaborations [Hidden Beach, 2007]
A little writing help from her friends ("8 Minutes to Sunrise," "Daydreamin'," "Good Morning Heartache"). ***

The Real Thing [Hidden Beach, 2007]
The Aretha analogy here is her weight. The front cover has her looking dusky and curvacious, spring coat over medium decolletage; on the back she's sitting on the floor all pensive with an open composition book covering her bosom. In neither does she fake skinny, and that is as it should be. At the very least, "real thing" means something for once. Through almost as many producers as Mary, this album has a single identity, a contour and a groove that suits its well-inhabited breakup concept. There's plenty of sex before and after, and the sex has content. I don't mean emotional content, either, though I have faith the emotion is there. In her timbre, her phrasing and the words she writes in that composition book, Scott is someone for whom sex is about physical pleasure--not athletic ability, boundary transgression, novelty or dominance and submission. A-

The Light of the Sun [Blues Babe/Warner Bros., 2011]
I agree, men are dogs. But it gets my radar in a lather when this loving, lovable woman structures her 2007 album along a break-up's narrative arc and then four years later the same thing happens twice--only the first guy leaves her with a boychild who, let's be candid, she loves more unreservedly than she has any grown man on record. For instance, Anthony Hamilton, with whom she shares the highly unconvincing "So in Love" duet right after a conversion experience of an opener called "Blessed" and right before a well-nigh womanist Eve duet. Other boons in a year when Adele has positioned herself as the queen of solemn soul: the sub-two-minute "Quick," about her babydaddy's attention span, and the four-minutes-plus "Making You Wait," about how she needs to find out whether he's nuts first. Also the Doug E. Fresh duet. A-

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