Jill Scott returned in 2015 with her fifth studio album Woman. One thing about Jill is she doesn’t know what a bad album is, a fact that wasn’t lost on Woman. Still, where does Woman fit in the ranks of her rich discography? Let’s rank Scott’s five studio albums!
1) Beautifully Human: Words And Sounds, Vol. 2 (2004)
Beautifully Human is clearly one of the best albums of the neo-soul era of R&B. No neo-soul isn’t officially dead like disco was, but it’s not trendy as it once was. But this isn’t really about neo-soul, but rather about Beautifully Human. You can’t go wrong with the jazzy soul of “Golden,” the tastefully sensual “Cross My Mind,” or the dysfunctional truism of “Family Reunion,” just to name a few.
The rest of the hits includes the alt-soul of “I’m Not Afraid,” the yearning “The Fact Is (I Need You)” with its “do do do’s,” and “Bedda At Home.” It would take a full-length retrospective review to elaborate upon the greatness of Beautifully Human. Right now, just “Can’t Explain (42nd Street Happenstance).”
2) Who Is Jill Scott: Words And Sounds, Vol. 1 (2000)
Let’s address the elephant in the room. If you are one of those people who believes the first album is ALWAYS the very best, then you’ll feel it’s a travesty that Who Is Jill Scott wasn’t ranked first. Ultimately, Jill’s first three albums are very close in quality, so it’s a personal preference.
But this isn’t about the legitimacy of Who Is Jill Scott in the least – it is unquestionably elite. One of the less heralded numbers is a personal jam – “Do You Remember,” the album’s first full-length track. But Who Is Jill Scott isn’t limited to just that. There’s “Gettin’ in the Way,” “A Long Walk,” “He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat),” “Love Rain” and another personal favorite, “The Way.”
3) The Real Thing: Words And Sounds, Vol. 3 (2007)
We had to wait three long years for Scott to follow-up her terrific Beautifully Human with The Real Thing. The wait was well worth it as Scott amplified her sensual side without going overboard. She gave us one killer “f**k-off” to the haters with “Hate On Me,” had us all hot and bothered with her “Epiphany,” and went on to describe herself as an exceptionally romantic lover on “My Love.” And notice, that doesn’t include other standouts like “The Real Thing,” “Come See Me,” Crown Royal,” and “Only You.”
4) The Light Of The Sun (2011)
It took four years for Scott to return with The Light Of The Sun. Like her previous albums characterized by lengthy hiatuses, this one was another solid addition to her discography. No, The Light Of The Sun isn’t better than her Words And Sounds albums, but it’s also not very far off. We felt Jill when she was “So In Love” with Anthony Hamilton (musical romance that is, don’t get it twisted) and we were on board when she brought on The A Group and Philly rap standout Eve on the funky retro-soul cut “Shame.”
She wasn’t done – Paul Wall joined her on the sensual “So Gone (What My Mind Says)” while the brief “Quick” was like a follow-up to The Real Thing’s “Epiphany.” Did we mention “Hear My Call” or “Until Then” in the mix? Go on and flex Jill!
5) Woman (2015)
Unfortunately, there has to be one album at the bottom of the barrel. It sucks to be that album, but that’s the way it goes. Woman, Scott’s latest album is another fine addition to her collection, no questions asked. The main reason it’s fifth and not higher is because the four albums ahead of it are just more notable. Who Is Jill Scott is the classic debut, Beautiful Human is stacked from start to finish, The Real Thing amplifies her sensual side like a champ, while Light of The Sun, although less heralded than the three preceding, continues finding Jill flex capably.
So that leaves Woman, another “contender” that suffers from being scattered. Consider it to be like a talented team that can still when the championship, but will have some speed bumps along the way. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with an album with strong records like “Lighthouse,” “Fool’s Gold,” “Closure,” “You Don’t Know” and a really cool song title, “Jahraymecofasola.”
So how would you rank the neo soul standout’s collection? Should Who Is Jill Scott be first? Does her chronological order also represent her quality?