By Bobbi Booker
It was four years ago this summer when poet Jill Scott quietly released her debut collection, “Who is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds Vol.1” In the time that’s passed since the North Philadelphia posed that question to the world, Scott has proven to be a musical force to be reckoned with.
“Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol.2” is her third release and the follow-up to her smash debut, which sold over 2 million copies—and is still selling strong. Scott took time off to settle in with her beloved husband, Lyzell Williams, fix up her new home and play with her pet cat. Although a lot of press has been given to Scott’s two-year absence, she was still quietly getting busy in the studio and was featured on several cd’s, including The Roots’ “Phrenology,” saxophonist Jeff Bradshaw’s “Bone Deep” and Kindred the Family soul’s debut.
Scott also took the time necessary to nurture the seeds to what will be hailed as one of the best albums of 2004. Human focuses on the woman that Scott has become. The reflections that she offers in this collection will strike close to the hearts of listeners, as was already demonstrated on her recent 9-city “Buzz Tour.”
Scott has proven that she is not the average girl when it comes to her artistic talent. First of all, she described herself as a poet and that is fully demonstrated in Human’s 17-song offering. From the intro, which begins were Scott ended in 2000 with the closing notes of “He Loves Me (Lyzell In E Flat),” she welcomes the audience into her world. The first single, “Golden,” is a high-stepping affirmation of self-determination that already has women, young and old alike, singing along with a smile.
This collection is chockfull of gems, some of which will be deemed instant classics. “Family Reunion” will be rocked at family gatherings for the next couple of decades because of Scott’s dead-on observations of the different personalities that make everyone’s families unique. Family unity is a major part of Scott’s message throughout this collection and Scott reaches out to her universal Black family to embrace African American men young and old on “The Fact Is (I Need You)” and “Rasool.”
Although marriage is paramount throughout “Human” and there are several standouts that are unique in their reflection of Scott’s prior relationships. In “Bedda at Home,” Scott toys with the idea of a fine man that makes her “want to pull single dollars out my pocketbook,” but she declines because her man is so much more. Scott also makes an unusual move for a female artist on “Can’t Explain” when she admits she was wrong in treating her lover badly and apologizes for her transgressions.
Scott strikes gold with “talk to Me,” a tune about a woman trying to get her man to discuss their problems. The words are simple, but the adventure Scott’s band takes as the song goes from one end of the jazz spectrum to the other, finally exploding with a big band flurry of sound, is incredible.
Although Scott has a Grammy for her work as co-writer for The Root’s “You Got Me,” she was merely nominated for her debut collection. In February, watch for Scott’s
“Beautifully Human” to collect a bevy of awards for this groundbreaking artist.
Originally published 8.31.04