Jill Scott

Who Is Jill Scott? (Hidden Beach/Epic)

On her debut, Who Is Jill Scott?, the titular Philly native pens love-themed sonnets that could get her hired as a writer for Hallmark's Mahogany line. Even so, just when you're about to pigeonhole Scott as a too-smooth sapstress, she spews lines like, "I been a lady up till now/Don't know how much more I can take/Queens shouldn't swing (if you know what I mean)/But I'm 'bout ta take my earrings off/Get me some Vaseline."

Tough talk from someone who revels in dreamy imagery of "places where butterflies rest easy," but Scott is a diverse artist, in both her delivery and her subject matter. Over jazz-inflected backdrops so spiritual they're damn near gospel, Scott shifts seamlessly from spoken word to melody, occasionally engaging in jazz-diva­style scatting and crooning. This relentlessly romantic album borders on redundancy, but hearing Scott gush is far more intriguing than listening to R&B's court jesters bicker endlessly about failed relationships.

 
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