2007 release from the Soul diva. A major player in the Neo-Soul armada that took both the Pop and R&B worlds by storm in the late-'90s/early-2000s, Jill Scott got her start touring with the likes of Erykah Badu and the Roots. With a background in both poetry and musical theater, Scott came at the genre from a fresh perspective, and her 2000 debut album made her a household name.
Before you peel the cellophane off The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3, check out the back cover photo. In it, Jill Scott sits slumped on a floor in a bathrobe and slippers with a notebook clutched to her chest. It's an image meant to tell you something about just how real these 15 songs keep it--no pretenses here, just an artist doling out bits of her soul--but it also accurately captures the diary-like vibe of the music. Though there's nothing in Jill Scott's catalog that lacks for intimacy, Vol. 3 puts honesty and introspection on lock. From the cool opening drums of "Let It Be," to the swollen soul of "Hate on Me," to the sexed-up "Crown Royal"--this disc's entirely too brief best track, Scott weaves through the music like a woman who's taken her time contemplating what feelings ought to sound like. Not just mood-wise, but style-wise. The way-lyrical, late-night-sounding song, "Epiphany," hints at something a later track, "Wanna be Loved," lays out clearly: In addition to her spectacular singing, Scott's got the goods to seduce her fans as a rapper. She's the real thing, and she's also well-rounded. --Tammy La Gorce