In the four years since her stunning debut, “Who Is Jill Scott?,” blossomed into a surprise hit, the Philly singer and poet has married, fixed up a house and spent a fair amount of time with her cat. It all agrees with her — or at least her new music, all of it deeply positive, indicates so. Scott is unveiling new tunes during a “buzz tour” split between the new and the familiar prior to the Aug. 31 release of her sophomore Hidden Beach/Sony Music effort, “Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2.”
Scott has taken the bliss of cohabitation and the lessons of a youth spent with two parents and turned it into a carillon call, especially to men. There’s no preaching here: Scott works a magical yin-yang of self-empowerment and an “It takes a village” mantra to get her point across. In one ballad that boasts of her ability to do anything solo, including raising a child, she jokes, “I can floss my own bling bling.” But her ultimate message, a plea even, is “We need you,” which she extended to fathers, brothers, uncles, etc., in the sold-out venue.
The newer music has a fuller melodic sensibility than her debut, much of it thanks to the easygoing soul music of the early 1970s, which owes more to her Philadelphia roots than the employment of sounds in vogue. Musically, Scott distinguishes herself from neo-soul siblings (Alicia Keys, Angie Stone) by not directly referencing forebears such as Donny Hathaway, the Gamble & Huff stable or Marvin Gaye. On top of it all she can pour it on like the blues singers who updated their sound with rock influences in the 1970s and then use the soothing bass and keyboard touchstones of the last great soul music era; she manages to avoid being a throwback.
“I am a ghetto child,” she proclaimed toward evening’s end, reciting and singing a poem-song about drug trafficking and senseless street shootings. Song was dedicated to people she has known, and as the audience tossed names to the singer, she worked them into the piece. It became a roll call that had a sting to it and put an exclamation point on the end of one considerably affecting perf.
Scott will perform July 27 and 28 at Sounds of Brazil in New York.