As the music of Laurie Anderson would prove, spoken word with music comes in many different forms, just like the art of reciting poetry at a slam. The concept of spoken word to music became popular with artists like Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen in the ’70s, but took neo soul artist like Jil Scott to make it a household concept – in the hood that is.
Jil Scott had been advancing the cause of poetry every sense her debut Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 in 2000. By the end of the decade, Scott had undergone many considerable changes and hardships on her way to musical maturity.
Light of the Sun, her fourth album was a slight departure from previous work in that it was highly improvised a trait from her days as a slam poet. In addition to maintaining her poetic roots, Scott and her longtime collaborator JR Hutson ventured further into the caverns of neo soul with songs that recalled the warm glow of the ’70s.
“So In Love” the album’s first single featured Anthony Hamilton doing his best Al Green impression. Listening to the rest of the album would suggest that Scott went through a lot to become the confident diva that she is. A carefree spirit moves through the songs with the metaphysical coexisting with gritty reality of life.
Songs about the joy of raising a child (“Blessed”) and “Some Other Time” suggested that as an mature adult Scotte was extolling the virtues of having virtue, something seldom preached in today’s contemporary R&B. On the flip side of that message “Making You Wait” throws out the refrain with a saucy beat and sensual lyrics.
Light of the Sun might be Scott’s most accessible album. It’s free from the confines of spoken word + background music of some of her earlier work. It’s also more varied in it’s approach to retro soul. Not everything harkened back to the past as bits of it were firmly rooted in contemporary hip hop.
The album generally did well internationally, but seemed to excel in the English speaking world. Light of the Sun became Scott’s most successful album reaching #1 on both the Billboard Top 200 album and R&B charts. It was the first time Scott had reached #1 outside of the R&B world.
Light of the Sun was the last album of new material from Scott, so we all are anxiously awaiting the two new releases she’s promised recently.