After a host of successful albums and numerous singles, singer, songwriter, author, and actress Jill Scott jumped from Hidden Beach to Warner Bros to release her stellar Light of the Sun album in June, 2011. While she was recording, her former label initiated a lawsuit claiming that she owed them three albums. The suit was settled quietly, with neither party commenting on the outcome. Apparently, what Hidden Beach received in the deal was the right to issue The Original Jill Scott from the Vault, Vol. 1, released hot on the heels of the number one single from Light of the Sun, “So in Love," which spent eight weeks at number one on Billboard's Urban chart, and the follow-up, "So Gone (What My Mind Says),” with Paul Wall. By and large, From the Vaults recordings usually consist of dead dogs, outtakes, demos, or material regarded as substandard. Not so here. Many of these tracks are finished masters, and virtually everything will delight hardcore Scott fans. The album contains a dozen tracks showcasing Scott in excellent voice, collaborating with many of the producers who helped to establish her name. The material ranges from a piano mix of "The Light" with Dre & Vidal and the slippery meld of neo-soul and hip-hop on "I Don't Know (I Gotta Have You)" produced by Ivan Barias, to a stellar, funky, but reverent cover of Bill Withers' "Lovely Day," produced by Jazzy Jeff, with an excellent string and horn chart just behind the beats. "Wake Up Baby," with Ronald "P-Nutt" Frost, is an old-school soul tune, layered with tasty guitar and steady, laid-back nocturnal beats, and an infectious melody. It's a production demo, but a final mix couldn't have been much different. Another production demo, "Running Away" (with a scratch vocal that becomes a live one), also allows the flow of studio sound to come through, making for a fascinating aural peek of Scott at work. Certainly, The Original Jill Scott from the Vault, Vol. 1 is a fan's collection; that said, it doesn't diminish Scott's reputation or come off as a label rip-off. Instead, it enhances the listener's idea of her perfectionist work ethic. It's not only listenable as an "in process" document, but offers a slew of tracks in various stages that are simply a pleasure to listen to.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek