Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3
Hidden Beach

The arc of a relationship provides some great (and truly sexy) R&B

Jill Scott took two and a half years to follow her 2004 Beautifully Human with January's Collaborations. Eight months later, the true sequel suggests that all those duets weren't just to help her writing. Scott's new album traces the arc of a relationship whose dissolution slows her down midway through -- until Track Thirteen. There, a new fella shows up to cure her "Celibacy Blues," touching off the whispered, honeyed "All I," a lesson for any horndog naive enough to believe that toned babes make better sex kittens. As with so many new R&B heroes, Scott's music is more about groove and mood than song. But more than Maxwell or D'Angelo, she cares about words, and no matter how poetically she muses, tracks like the turf-claiming "Real Thing," the erotic "Crown Royal," the distressed "Insomnia" and the inspired "Breathe" always situate her in space and time.

Rolling Stone, Oct. 4, 2007