Jill Scott, ‘Woman’ [ALBUM REVIEW]
Jill Scott’s fifth studio album, Woman, feels like catching up over drinks with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. It’s familiar and comforting -- she sticks to her harmonious formula of spoken word, soulful ballads and unapologetic relationship revelations. She’s not that dramatic friend though. Nothing monumental has changed in her life. And for better or worse, the album follows suit.
Woman begins with “Wild Cookie,” an intro about the many repercussions of female desire. It’s a warning, an ode and a warm welcome all in one, embracing the vulnerability of a woman. The cookie sometimes has a mind of its own, apparently.
A classic “Jill” track that kicks it all off is “Be Prepared,” on which she spits self-fulfilling prophecies about the love that is inevitably headed her way. “I just wanna be prepared for when I see him at the end of the aisle,” she sings. Other mid-tempo tracks on the album also drip a specific brand of feminine positivity -- the idea that love is something that not only begins within, but is also within reach.
“Can’t Wait” and “Lighthouse” tug at similar heartstrings, boasting the power of heady devotion to a partner. Scott’s dichotomy on this album lies in her insistence on relying on oneself for fulfillment but being able to melt completely into a man, casting aside all ego and pride. In some songs (like “Lighthouse”) she is the rescuer and in others, she plays the damsel in distress.
But not necessarily in a weak way. On “You Don’t Know,” her first single off the album as well as the bluesiest, Scott’s vocals match her message: strength means recognizing when a person has captured your body and soul. Her wails -- different in timbre but similar in intent to Nine Simone and Etta James -- imply that surrender is sometimes the most powerful battle tactic.
Watch Jill Scott's "You Don't Know" Video
“Fool’s Gold” -- a vast departure from her 2004 single, “Golden” -- is a song about deception. “I was living a dream, believing things that just ain’t true,” she says about a detrimental relationship pattern fueled by illusions of grandeur.
Despite a few of these tracks, the album is pretty lighthearted. A little more of the blues could have lifted it to another level -- one which we know that Scott is capable of. Think Zane versus Toni Morrison: tickling the senses sells copies but drama makes for Pulitzer Prize-winning prose.
With all due respect, Scott is allowed to be happy. Uptempo tracks such as “Run Run Run” and “Coming to You” have an energetic big band feel -- something akin to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings with a melange of kicky brass and drums. On the former, she describes a woman with a purpose, taking care of business in every sense of the word.
Comic relief appears about midway through the album on “Closure,” serving as a reset button if you’re listening to it straight though. The track describes a passionate yet smug tryst with an ex-lover who no longer has control over her psyche. It’s empowering if you buy into the idea that an ex can serve as a satisfying plaything and nothing more. “Would you mind leaving out the back door?” she asks him, refusing to even fix him the previously obligatory homemade waffle and grits.
Scott is self-sufficient on Woman, save for production from 9th Wonder, Andre Harris and David Banner and a feature from BJ the Chicago Kid on “Beautiful Love." The song is something like Lauryn Hill’s “The Sweetest Thing,” a spring fever-esque closeout track filled with synths and soothes, transporting listeners to a simpler time when love existed without baggage.
On the whole, Scott relays the many shades of womanhood on this album. Being witty, irreverent, devoted and even a sucker are all acceptable nuances of modern day feminism. You make the rules. And while it doesn’t move mountains, this album is a reminder evolution doesn’t always mean transformation. Love is always going to be complex and Jill Scott is always going to tell it like she knows it.
Listen to Jill Scott's "Beautiful Love" Feat. BJ the Chicago Kid