Second studio album from sensuous nu-soul sister
Philadelphia has long been known as “the city of brotherly love”, but a number of nu-soul artists-namely Ursula Rucker, Vivian Green, Floetry (who relocated there from their native south London), Jazzyfatnastees and Jaguar Wright?are challenging that epigram’s gender bias.
Most notable among them is Jill Scott, who first made her name on Philadelphia’s spoken-word scene but broke into music after she was discovered by Amir “?uestlove” Thompson, drummer with conscious hip hop crew Roots. Scott co-wrote their 1999 Top 40 hit “You Got Me”, and subsequently recorded with them before going on to work with Will Smith, Common and Musiq, among others. She made her solo debut in 2000 with the wryly titled Who Is Jill Scott?
Words And Sounds Vol 1. Despite its slipperiness, “nu-soul” is as good a term as any to describe Scott’s style?a blend of R&B and hip hop with ’70s soul?but her rootsy poeticism sets her apart from the likes of Mary J Blige and aligns her far more closely with Erykah Badu. Beautifully Human is a warm and sensuous, seductively fluid affair, with Scott easing off on her trademark spoken scat and instead unfurling a singing voice that moves from plaintive, Holiday-toned blues through Kitt-enish cool to Franklin-like gale force. Only the crypto-cosmic nonsense of “I Keep Still Here” (“I am the love unshattered/I am the great orgasm”) mars an otherwise emotionally subtle, righteously soulful treat.