Jill Scott

Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2
(Hidden Beach/Epic)

Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter Jill Scott doesn't indulge in the sweeping generalizations that sometimes bog down work by her peers in the neo-soul scene -- moon-June appreciations of honey-dripped thighs and eyes like God's skies. In tunes like "The Fact Is (I Need You)" and "Family Reunion" she does the opposite, writing with such a fine-tipped pen that she brings a kind of warm magic to the comfortingly mundane. "I could be a computer analyst," she asserts matter-of-factly, before wondering if her niece's famous potato salad gets its curious green color from the scallions or the celery. (Either way, "ol' Uncle Jerome loves it.") Beautifully Human's music, produced by R&B heavyweights Raphael Saadiq, James Poyser and the team of Andre Harris and Vidal Davis, among others, sustains the appealingly intimate vibe: Scott layers a sweet backyard bird call over fluttering guitars and plucked strings in "Spring Summer Feeling," while "Bedda at Home," built around a relatively raw drum loop, zooms in on a swinging street corner. In "Talk to Me," the singer threatens to go wide screen with a breezy big band break, but still pauses to offer a glass of Merlot to a lover going "off into outer space."

 
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