Sunday, 7 February 2021

Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2/ Jill Scott (2004): Albums of my Life: An A-Z



 ...Jill Scott was such an exciting artist to find back in 2000. I think I came across her on a music channel (probably taking off her earrings in the 'Gettin' In The Way' video) and thinking 'who is this amazing, sassy woman?' That video was so iconic and her spoken word style was effortless and just so cool to me, different to the more poppy chart R n' B I was accustomed to. 

Another Jill Scott memory came later. In 2008, I was lucky enough to get to see her at The Brixton Academy for her 'The Real Thing' Tour. I never really had any friends who were into the more niche soul music as much as me, and I was now living away from home, so I got my music-loving dad to meet me in London, we saw the gig together, then I traveled back on the last train to Portsmouth alone! I'm so glad I booked the tickets and I would have gone alone if necessary (such is my love for Ms. Scott). My dad's music taste is not really rooted in this genre, but I think he actually loved it and could appreciate the musicality and pure talent in Jill's voice and her accompanying band. She is also such a warm and fun personality to see live. It made me love her that bit more to see how she performed and interacted with her audience. I'd love to see her again, and I know she was due to play the O2 last year, but canceled due to Covid. At the time, tickets were too expensive to seriously consider, but if she re-schedules in the future, maybe I'll dig deep and see if my dad fancies a 'Family Reunion' (tee hee!)

'Beautifully Human' is the follow up to Jill's first album, 'Who is Jill Scott?' which came out in 2000 and was a favourite at the time (and one I am still fond of). Her music is often put under the umbrella of neo soul and I suppose that's the genre I was mostly drawn to around my mid to later teenage years and early twenties. These are years where you think a lot about love and try to navigate early relationships; female role models are crucial to a young girl at this time. It's no coincidence that I was listening to the likes of Jill, India Arie and Pink whose empowering messages gave me comfort and inspiration. These women spoke to me (and still do) in a way that no-one else was able to. Their lyrics tell young women to hold their heads up and be unafraid to be themselves; to take a moral stance instead of being what society may suggest a young woman should be, or do, or look like; to celebrate being a woman in all facets. Unashamedly.

Jill Scott started as a spoken-word poet and has also acted. Her albums feature jazz sections, such as in 'Talk to Me' on this album, spoken word ('Cross My Mind'), R n' B and opera. For me as a young white girl, neo soul was a dip into a culture and genre different to what was immediately around me. It has always felt like the purest and most articulate portrayal of romantic love. The way that Jill and her peers sing about the high of being in love, or the deep pain of lost or unrequited love, it's like the work of a photo-realistic painter-- and I say this knowing it sounds daft, but that's the point. I'm from a world where no-one expresses or articulates any of that!

 

1. I Need You- simple, true, strong, beautiful.
2. Cross My Mind- reminiscing about a someone when you know you shouldn't, but...
3. Talk to Me- a jazzy number- we've all been in a relationship like this one...

... I want to go back to feeling like I'm young in the safety of knowing I am not quite so young anymore. There are also quite a few tracks that are fun vocal exercises to *try* to sing along to if you fancy a vocal workout!


'I can kill the spider above my bed
Although it's hard because I'm scared.' ('I Need You')

I love the sentiment of this song-- knowing you are self-sufficient in every way, but needing someone in your life. So humble and true.

Or this...

To hear a woman express and reflect on feelings of lust in an album is very refreshing. 

... Golden, obviously (track 3, for reference).


'Ben'/ Michael Jackson (1972)
'Broadside' Bellowhead (2012)


What is your favourite album beginning with B?

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