A playful, spiritual, sexual record, Jill Scott’s The Light of the Sun is a revelation for the Philadelphia singer/songwriter/poet/actress. Her fourth studio album, her first release for Warner Bros. Records, follows a four-year hiatus from recording music and puts her back on solid ground.
A lot happened has for Scott since 2007’s The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3. Not only did she take a break from the music business, she took on some pretty big acting roles, including a starring role in HBO’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. During her hiatus, Scott divorced her husband of six years, had a child, and struggled with her former record label.
These adventures and misadventures formulate the foundation of The Light of the Sun, an album Scott says was largely improvised. Indeed, most of what the singer puts down here feels raw and heartfelt. She draws on her natural talent for spoken word, covering the beats and soundscapes with emotional lyricism spawning a host of subjects in need of deep exploration.
What Scott offers the listener is a complete woman, not a booty-thumping weirdo from a music video and not a bland archetype. Her thoughts, ideals and philosophies spring to life through songs of healing, power and regret. She bares her mistakes, shares her victories.
The album opens on a high note with “Blessed,” a charming sun-kissed tune brimming with gratitude. She talks about her child, life and how her “grandma almost lived to see 92.”
Other spots are more ambitious and more complex, like the nine minute “Le BOOM Vent Suite.” Touched by sex and spirit alike, the cut lets Scott balance her catlike sensuality with more forceful, intrusive tones. Funky guitar and a smooth beat give the movement edge.
“Hear My Call” is a passionate, marvellous call to God. Scott is “waiting to be moved” by the Spirit and questions what she thought she knew. The request, hands aloft, to get back to what she believes in is powerful stuff. Couched in desperate need and a simple string-and-piano arrangement, it is certainly the album’s loveliest piece.
Venturing from gospel to jazz to hip hop to soul to R&B is no easy enterprise, but Scott overcomes genre borders with relaxed flexibility and bottomless love for her craft. An emotional, intrepid, stunning performer, she proves her mettle time and time again. The Light of the Sun is a shining success story set to music, one that should be relived and regarded for a long time to come.