Woman (released July 24, 2015)
Jill Scott isn’t perfect. She’ll probably be the first person to tell you that.
Her name has been plastered all over social media in the past few months — and in most cases, it had nothing to do with her upcoming fifth studio album. Y’all know the story – she was outspoken in her defense of a man she admired, yet later admitted that she spoke much too soon. She did what she thought was right, yet stumbled.
Scott’s latest album, Woman, is a reflection of that — the ups and downs of womanhood. For Scott, the story is about the journey, not necessarily the destination. That’s why Woman unfolds almost cinematically in our ears.
The first third of the album is nothing but sheer jubilance. Newfound love will get you sprung like that.
“Prepared” features that vibrant, live-band sound that so often shapes Jill’s hearty vocals. In her words, she has to “get myself ready for what’s coming for me.” “Run Run Run” embodies the frantic pace of womanhood — the keys themselves race the horns, keeping the pace rapid.
While the instruments are heavenly, there are few storytellers as good as Jilly from Philly, and she shines here. “Just the other day I had to reprimand a grown-up,” she wearly says on “Can’t Wait.” After a day of being boss lady, she looks for comfort in the arms of her man. Both men and women can appreciate that type of love.
The album’s tone soon shifts, though. She becomes a woman awakened on first single “Fool’s Gold,” with a gritty feel that teleports me back to Raekwon’s “Incarcerated Scarfaces” days. And by “Closure” she’s a woman fed up, yelling at her man that “there will be no more homemade waffles.”
YOU’RE GOING TOO FAR, JILLY.
But the story doesn’t end there. The bluesy “You Don’t Know” is Scott’s best vocal performance on the album, exhibiting the rage, pain and exhaustion of a broken heart. The album soon comes full circle, with “Coming to You” vibrating with the off-the-charts energy that started the album. She’s ready to reconcile and begin love anew. And “Jahraymecofasola” is a wonderfully gentle affirmation of affection.
Woman is quite the rollercoaster of emotion, but it’s not without bumps. The experimental “Say Thank You” is effective as a declaration of self-worth but it’s too distorted and disjointed to stand on its own. “Lighthouse” features tight songwriting but, again, the vocal manipulations are a bit unnecessary. And the groove of “Cruisin” is a bit TOO relaxed. It doesn’t have the slight jolt of energy that “Jahraymecofasola” has.
On “Coming to You,” Scott says: “Some people don’t understand how music can build up a man.” Clearly, it can rebuild a woman too, flaws and all.
Best tracks: “Can’t Wait,” “You Don’t Know,” “Jahraymecofasola”
3.5 stars out of 5