x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Review: Jill Scott, Light of the Sun (Warner)

Jill Scott has lived through some trying times, and sings about them with heartfelt emotion on her new album.

Divorced, raising a child as a single mother and ditched by her subsequent partner, the Philadelphia neo-soul singer Jill Scott speaks of those dark times and celebrates survival in this new album. All of which might appear clichéd if tackled by lesser artists, but Scott's dynamic voice is an instrument all its own with its mix of jazz with spoken-word poetry. In the opener, Blessed, Scott showcases her supple vocal phrasings as she counts her blessings over lush keyboards. The first single, So in Love, a touching duet with fellow crooner Anthony Hamilton, is beautifully produced with a funky bass line over a crackling beat. While her decision to collaborate with Hamilton makes sense, Scott also mixes it up with the rapper Eve for Shame, a funky feminist anthem in which Scott declares that she is "magnificent and I'm queen of the throne". It is in the percussion-heavy Quick that she addresses her relationship troubles directly. "I'm a one-man lover, I'm not a Casanova," she sings. Scott fans used to the grittier instrumentation of her early records may initially blanch at Light of the Sun's polished sound, but dig deeper and you will find that Scott is continuing to record her musical and emotional development - a journey that continues to be memorable.