"The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3" was released in September 2007. Thus far it had escaped my attention. In todays music biz that isn't saying a whole lot. Total crap manages to reach the top of the charts, gems buried deep beneath it. Then again, Jill Scott is not what you'd call a new arrival. You'd expect a little buzz when a critics favorite releases something new. So the question is, is her album indeed the real thing or is it yet another in line of increasingly dull Nu-Soul albums. As I have posted before I feel Nu-Soul is a flawed problems, stuck in the same radio friendly beats that are hardly capable of making a wave even if you would crank the volume up to eleven. Most Nu-Soul is unfortunately nothing more than wall paper to the numerous lounge cafés that infest the inner cities. With Jill Scott it has always been a hate love thing for me.
Jill Scott grew up in the city of brotherly love, where she had, by her own account, a happy childhood. In the field of music that is often a handicap. Music is not unlike method acting. You need to be able to draw on your own experience to make the songs of heartbreak and yearning sound convincing. As much as its a cliché that artists have to suffer in order to create, it is almost scientific fact that artists with a monkey on their back, or carrying a heavy load, are the ones that usually deliver the goods. Jill Scott always struck me as somewhat of a exception on this rule. Jill Scott started out as a spoken word artist, a poet at heart. Ruthlessly intelligent, Jill Scott has always had the ability to whip words in the shape she needed them to be. Her lyrics floated somewhere between sharp analyzes of her relations to people, a strong sense of her womanhood and an almost retro sense of Black pride. To top it of, Scott has that kind of gentle voice that is capable of lashing out at unsuspected moments, giving her often too relaxing beats an edge they sorely need. Jill Scott is one of those artists cut and tailored for the Nu-Soul genre that needs to get its conviction out of lyrics and a voice to translate them.
"The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3" is one of those albums that doesn't disappoint but doesn't really thrill either. Most of the album again conjures up images of soft cushions, silky sheets, dimmed candle candle light and none to offensive rocking hips. Nu-Soul seems ever stuck in foreplay. Only on, what has apparently been the single, "Hate On Me", things heat up a little. Jill has a chip on her shoulder, a left over from a failed relationship, and makes it known. It's the third track in, getting your hopes up after hearing all this naked raging emotion. Unfortunately the CD settles back in its all too comfortable groove after that. Much of the album deals with broken relationships, the lyrics hold a lot of potential, but it never amounts to anything really interesting. The unsuspecting listener can slide back in his or her comfortable cushion and order another Mojito without his slumber being disturbed. The unsuspecting listener might just play this album to seduce his new girlfriend, hoping to get some action on a record that is built on heartache. Jill has a lot of potential, but what is lacking so far is let it all hang out. Anybody who's seen her in concert knows she can, so Jill, please get to it.