- Article by: Erik Rocca
- Posted: 07/15/2011
"I want someone to feel what I'm saying, and if by chance if it makes you want to shake your butt, I am really, really good with that too." -Jill Scott
Jill Scott, the three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, actress and poet released her star-studded album, The Light of the Sun, at the end of June. Featuring guest collaborations with Eve, Anthony Hamilton, Paul Wall and Doug E. Fresh, Scott’s fourth studio album stands as an adequate yet flawed follow-up to her Grammy nominated 2007 release, The Real Thing: Words And Sounds Vol. 3.
Pairing her bold vocal styling with a measured fragility, The Light of the Sun resists categorization, much as Scott herself has since the beginning of her career.
Emerging from humble beginnings in North Philadelphia, Scott was discovered at a spoken word performance by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots, who quickly invited her to record with the now legendary crew.
Scott's career has been a whirlwind ever since. She recently co-headlined the White House Poetry Night hosted by the Obamas. Scott read her poem "Womanifesto" that night, and none of its gravity was lost on her presidential audience. She received some of the most strident cheers and applause heard that evening.
Scott's celebrity status aside, she remains a person of tremendous influence, primarily for her unapologetic honesty about who she is and all her wonderful complexity. In an interview discussing The Light of the Sun, she proudly stated, "I am sassy. I am aggressive, smart, weak, strong ... I'm a person, so that's what you're gonna hear on the record."
These moments of self-definition and declaration are found throughout the new album, most notably in the aptly titled spoken word poem "Womanifesto." In that track, Scott describes herself, saying, "Strong legs that stroll off the 33 bus” and “I am a Grand Dame Queen Beast” and “I have a rhythm in my ways” and “I am gifted."
It's these moments of absolute declaration that shine the brightest in The Light of the Sun. At their best, Scott's lyrics hit like a fast moving subway train and remind us of the power of music to empower.
In contrast to "Womanifesto," the album's first single "So In Love," strikes a lighter chord and spins a tale of fledgling love. Scott sings a duet with Anthony Hamilton: "When I open my eyes and see you / Hey, hey, I feel like a breath of fresh air / I feel like I can fly / That I can get by." This simplicity in Scott's songwriting, with its tiny elegant truths, draws comparisons to the golden age of Motown.
Although the album features A-list collaborations, The Light of the Sun lacks the sound and fury of a bona fide hit from past records. “Shame” and “So In Love” are strong compositions, but they do not compare to the serenity of "A Long Walk,” the vocal power of “Golden” or the dark beauty of "You Got Me" from her previous releases.
Jill Scott endures as an artist to forever watch, but after a careful listen to her latest release, I believe her best is yet to come.