The Billboard charts are now officially impossible to predict. Jill Scott hadn’t released a new album in nearly four years. She had parted ways with her record label, was busy starring in an HBO series, and saw tourmate Maxwell cancel the second leg of their tour in 2010. Taking into account the fact that Scott has never had an LP hit the top of the charts, surely there was no way her brand-new album, The Light of the Sun, could hope to land at number one. Wrong. Coming in at number one on both the R&B and Billboard 200, Scott has proven once and for all that she is here to stay. The album itself isn’t a groundbreaker by any stretch of the imagination, but such is neo-soul, and Scott’s seductive vocals make up for whatever predictability pops up here and there.
The album’s centerpiece and lead single is “So in Love”, a duet featuring a game performance from Anthony Hamilton. His back-and-forth with Scott is the stuff R&B dreams are made of. Contributions from fellow artists surface all over the first half of the album, where even Eve pops up on “Shame” to prove she still raps. There’s even the welcome return of Doug E. Fresh, who beatboxes over pool hall piano in the gleeful “All Cried Out Redux” to temporarily steal the spotlight from Scott. It’s a shame Paul Wall’s verse on “So Gone (What My Mind Says)” feels so out of place(“I know you feel it all in your stomach/When you arch your back… Ass in the air when you bite that pillow”).
At 14 tracks, The Light of the Sun would have fared better if cut by three or four numbers. But that’s why god invented the skip button. Forget the tiresome slow-tempo tracks, such as “When I Wake Up” and “Rolling Hills”, and enjoy the rest of the record. Bask in the short, free verse stylings of “Quick” and the beautiful piano ballad that is “Hear My Call”. You may come out feeling quite “Blessed”. And, yes, I went there.