Jill Scott, Beautifully Human.
Take a moment, be still.
Imagine the beauty absorbed by merely adjusting the volume. The sinuous creases of wisdom etched into the hands of your great grandma might reveal much more than just weathered skin; the imperfection in your neighbor's cracked-tooth grin, is a badge of his character. In fact, your own flaws and blemishes might garner a deeper appreciation for the joy and the gift that is the journey.
Jill's energy has made a shift toward reflection since her debut, "Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1." Along with the blessings of matrimony, a fundamental appreciation for and understanding of life have attributed to the subtle nuances in her perspective. She even took heed when her inner clock struck the right time to take a pause to bask in the ease of being Lyzel's wife, the only daughter of Joyce and an artist, a woman, in tune with the rhythm of her own spirit. "I write about what I'm living and I knew that I couldn't create without having some time at home. Otherwise, this album would have been about being on the road," she says and laughs out loud. "It was important for me to calm my spirit because it was so active and excited. I needed to go grocery shopping, paint a room in my house and even get a manicure and pedicure without having to rush to an appointment.
The messages of life's language find their way to Jill Scott during her most quiet moments. The nouns, verbs and melodies, together, suggest that life can be beautiful as we make it. Introducing "Beautifully Human, Words and Sounds Vol. 2" (Hidden Beach Recordings).
In her own words, Jill is a poet, first, and will die as such. With "Beautifully Human," she has opened her heart as an offering. "Music is supposed to touch people and act as the bridge between one human being and another. I want listeners to feel something when they experience this album -- there are songs to remind us to get wild, be quiet and also, be revolutionary."
Draping her thoughts against the production backdrop of a select few, she returned to the lab with the usual suspects: James Poyser, Andre Harris & Vidal Davis and Mam's Boys' Ivan & Carvin. "I went back to the guys automatically because they know me," she says. She also sought the expertise of Raphael Saadiq, P-nut, Pete Kuzma and Ant Bell. There is a science to her method. "When I'm writing, I like to hear the music first, the whole process, not just a partial idea. I'd gotten a lot of great Jill Scott-type tracks, but I didn't want another version of the songs that were on the first album."
Leading the 15-song set is 'Golden,' an anthem that fluidly weighs our very existence on the same scale as a luminous natural resource. If you let her tell it, she'll say that hte song allows folks a glimpse into where she's been and how she's managed her own brand of freedom. "After taking time off, I felt like I was just living my life like it was golden; it was as if I could polish it, like I could walk past a mirror and just marvel at it. So when I heard the track for the first time, the words just came to me and all I could do was just write them down."
With an offer to forfeit a few worldly possessions in exchange, she ain't shy when speaking the truth 'bout how it was put down last night on 'Whatever.' As with much of her writing, Lyzel was the inspiration for this song, which will make you want to crawl up next to the object of your desire. "Married life is really good, it's a beautiful thing," she says. "I enjoy spending my life with this man; I like him, I like his personality, I like the way he treats his friends. When I'm talking about love, I'm talking about him."
Speaking of the brothers, Jill penned, 'Fact Is (I Need You)' to shine a bit of light on both sides of the gender divide. "I'm all for the women's movement, but there is a Ying and a Yang. We sisters haven't been fair to our men and they don't believe themselves to be needed, necessary or even appreciated," she says. "He men are supposed to be here and not just as boyfriends and husbands; what about our uncles, godfathers, nephews and cousins? That song is a call-out to them."
On 'Cross My Mind,' she allows her memory to travel back to an old flame, but then she pulls herself back from the past's grasp just before the fade-out. D--n, who hasn't gone there a few times? While dropping a few dimes as she once did with the "Who Is Jill Scott?" album cut, 'Watching me,' Jill offers a wake-up call to the masses on 'Petition.' It's a love song, of sorts, but upon closer listen, the object of her love, dismay and utter frustration might not be who it appears initially.
But wait. Was it really four summers ago that she held court, center stage, with "Who is Jill Scott?" It seems like yesterday that she stepped out of North Philly, head held high, to sharpen our senses on what it looks like, sounds like, to be true to oneself. Her presence was refreshing, a necessary detour from the distractions, and launched a grassroots movement. For her efforts, acclaim from the 'hood and the critics preceded double-platinum plaques and nominations for Grammy (including Best New Artist) and NAACP Image Awards, trophies from both Billboard and Soul Train and the honor of sharing the stage with Aretha Franklin for VH1's Divas Live. She graced magazine covers (and was voted among People's 50 Most Beautiful for 2001), contributed editorials and blessed the national television stages of Oprah, David Letterman, Jay Leno and 'The View.' After touring the world, she released a real, live album with some new joints, "Experience: Jill Scott." All that remained was the mold, which she left behind her, in pieces.
In the mean- and in-between time, Jill has been living and refueling. She directed a video for labelmate, trombonist Jeff Bradshaw, and even strolled down Sesame Street with Grover and Big Bird in celebration of their 33rd year. Her original compositions were featured on the soundtracks for 'Brown Sugar,' 'Rush Hour 2,' 'Down to Earth,' 'Kingdom Come' and the 'Red Star Sounds' compilation. Most recently, she made her primetime sitcom debut with a 4-episode run on UPN's 'Girlfriends,' starred in Showtime's 'Cave Dwellers' and crafted the forthcoming book of poetry, entitled simply, The Minutes, The Moments, The Hours (St. Martin Press). Oh, and she kept her ears close to the sounds of Frankie Beverly & Maze and the late songbird, Minnie Riperton, who is, as she so eloquently relays, "all up in this new album."
So who is Jill Scott today? She still ponders the question as she did the first time around, but instead asks that you listen for yourself. "Well, I don't know yet," she says. "I'm not trying to completely define myself right now. What I do know is that I'm flawed, happy, jacked-up, angry, confused, solid, strong, weak and I'm also trying to watch my actions and my character. I've only got one me."
--- from the official Jill Scott website