*Reviewer’s Note: It appears that the reviewer was listening to the watermarked version of this CD, and the overdub at the beginning of each track does not appear in the actual released version. Whew! That was the only blemish on this otherwise appealing compilation of songs from Ms. Scott. We may never know if she considered this her best or her favorite work, but the fact that music this solid came from the vault, speaks to the quality of the artist that Jill Scott is.

Sometimes when vaulted tracks are released after an artist has separated from a label, it can be bittersweet experience for the fans. It’s a bitter experience because we don’t know the circumstances surrounding the music. We are left wondering. Were these songs considered finished by the artist? Is that the arrangement, music or production that the artist would have chosen for the lyrics? Were these songs intended for past or future albums? Or frankly, were they considered not “up to snuff’ by the artist and deliberately vaulted?

It also can be sweet. If you are a fan of a certain artist, then you welcome any and all of his or her work that you can get your hands on. The more the better.

Because Jill Scott has never come “wack” she has no reason to be ashamed of The Original Jill Scott From The Vault, Vol 1. Lyrically, it has the “open mic on poetry night vibe” that we’ve come to love from Ms. Scott. Especially on tracks like “I’m Prettier”. “I am so beautiful, when I let it go. Let it go. I’m so much prettier when I let it go.” “I Don’t Know (Gotta Have You)” gets your head bobbing. Her delivery on the jazzy track “Holding On” is flawless. The influence of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, songstresses who Jill Scott admires, is apparent.

But when listening to the CD there is one blaring hint that suggests Jill Scott may not have ever intended to release this music. And it’s not the music itself. It’s the fact that within the first 30 seconds of EACH track comes a loud overdub that proclaims, “THIS IS THE ORIGINAL JILL SCOTT”. It’s as if her former label, like an ex-boyfriend, is trying to remind anyone who will listen, of the fact that “she used to be my girl”. By about the fourth track, hearing that declaration is distracting (read: annoying). The listener can’t help but to think there is some underlying suggestion that work on The Original Jill Scott From The Vault, Vol 1 is supposed to be considered more authentic than the work that Ms. Scott has produced for her new project and label. It’s also worth mentioning that the original title for this CD, before it was changed, was Just Before Dawn: Jill Scott From The Vault, Vol. 1, which is very similar to the title of her The Light Of The Sun CD. Add to that the irony of the inclusion of the song “Dear Mr. & Mrs. Record Industry” on this CD, given the painful separation between Ms. Scott and her former label.

Even with all that if you are a Jill Scott fan, you should add this CD to your collection as it is solid. And, as this work seems to be older work you will dig it if you’ve been “riding” with her from the beginning.

Favorite tracks: “I Don’t Know (Gotta Have You)”, “I’m Prettier”, “Holding On”, “Wake Up Baby”

KKC

Kimberly Kennedy Charles

I have questions. Artists have answers.