By Justin Knudsen, August 6 2015 —
After a four-year hiatus since her last album The Light of the Sun, R&B artist Jill Scott returns with her fifth studio album, Woman. Scott has been a seasoned veteran in the neo-soul community since she broke onto the scene in 2000.
In the age of the specialist, where artists usually explore only a few musical spaces in an album, Woman stands as an exception. R&B, jazz, gospel, blues, hip-hop, pop, funk and even some electronica are on display throughout the hour-long album.
Scott made a name for herself as a spoken-word artist before contributing to the late-’90s R&B movement with artists like Erykah Badu and The Roots. While she has explored other genres and influences before, Woman is her most ambitious album, breaking away from her old style and showcasing Scott’s variety.
The album begins with Scott returning to her spoken word roots in “Wild Cookie,” where she delivers a narrative on the disloyalty of men. “Say Thank You” reaffirms Scott’s spoken word prowess later in the LP, backed by a wailing psychedelic-soul guitar solo.
The forth track, “Can’t Wait,” is supported by an energetic ‘70s bass line and a strong Motown influence, consisting of falsetto backup vocals and stripped-down funk guitar chords.
The album’s dynamic variety protects it from becoming monotonous, but there are certainly standout tracks. The production in “Lighthouse” draws on modern hip-hop beats and “You Don’t Know” is a soulful blues song Ray Charles must have forgotten to write. “Cruisin,” an album highlight, offers a smooth, electronic-infused sound.
But the diversity in sound works against the album as well. The constant change in feeling and style between songs can be too erratic, and certain songs are entirely devoid of hooks and catchy melodies. Look elsewhere if you want something to sing along to.
Overall though, the infectious groove of Woman makes the album a great representation of R&B’s full potential.