JILL SCOTT with Matisse and the playground at the Guvernment (1 Jarvis), Tuesday (August 10). $40.75. 416-870-8000
According to her latest single, Philly poet and soulstress Jill Scott is living her life like it's Golden. The song, off her new record, Beautifully Human (set to drop on Hidden Beach/Epic Records August 31), is a sparkling nu-soul smoothie with a smart, driving hook, sung in the voice of someone so empowered you can't help but hold your head high when you hear her belting, "She's taking her freedom, putting it in her stroll - she'll be high-stepping, y'all, letting the joy unfold."
Other tracks that have surfaced reveal an album that lives up to the quality of 2000's Who Is Jill Scott? Words And Sounds, Vol. 1, and 2001's Experience: Jill Scott 826+. The song Bedda At Home, a lush Midnight Marauders-era Tribe Called Quest-style sample with a hardcore drum break, finds Scott rockin' it Birdland-style about her love for her man. And then there's Family Reunion, a laid-back number that conjures the image of a faded Polaroid taken in 1988 and affirms the timeless nature of Scott's sound.
From the sound of it, Scott's carrying the coffee-house feel of Vol. 1 into more futuristic waters, experimenting further with her fluttering vocal lines over beats meant for football-stadium-sized crowds to rock to.
With a best female vocal performance Grammy nomination for her song A Long Walk on her resumé and Toronto the last and only Canadian stop in her month-plus buzz tour through the States to hype up Beautifully Human - Vol. 2 of Scott's Words And Sounds series - mega-success is anticipated.
Then again, there's been a lot of clamour about Scott since Who Is Jill Scott? hit the streets. Check some of the chatter from the folks posting on her home page and you'll see how Scott's music moves people.
"I have been waiting with bated breath for Jill's new joint," writes one fan from Detroit on the edge of her seat. "Her music, poetry and image have inspired me to reach down deeper into myself and find out who I really want to be."
A woman from Chicago effuses, "Jill Scott, your completeness as a human being is astounding. I cannot express my admiration for all the splendour and grace you possess within yourself; words, song, every facet of you is remarkable. Thank you for capturing our emotions so clearly, and voicing to the masses what we all feel."
As for me, Jill Scott hasn't thrown down the ladder to the treehouse of my inner child while helping me to know my significance in the cosmos, but she has made music I can sing along to while wearing headphones on busy streets, causing people to look at me like I'm being carried around by a flock of pigeons. I can't help it. Her tunes are influenza on wax - infectious to the core.
In the past, Scott's music has been provided by Jazzy Jeff's A Touch of Jazz imprint and the Roots. For this album, James Poyser, Raphael Saadiq, Andre Harris and Vidal Davis are on board, providing sonic nectar to smooth over her flows.
While some have complained that Scott's past efforts have lacked punch, her live shows always make up for that. Her affirmative spirit fills rooms when she performs.
Scott probably never thought she'd have such a major reach. The first hit she ever wrote - the hook to the Roots' moving 1999 long-distance relationship ode, You Got Me - wound up being sung by the then more famous Erykah Badu.
The Roots have since been very stringent about giving Scott her due props when they perform the song in concert. On their live album The Roots Come Alive, there's a beautiful soul roller coaster of a version featuring Jill Scott, and at the end she sings her name over and over so you'll never forget who she is.
And the more you hear her, the more you can't.