The photos on the cover and within the booklet of The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3 do not match the music. Does Jill Scott really have to hail a cab? Is she really awakened in the middle of the night by the need to write songs with an anguished look on her face? Really? Because these songs sound like they were written as she was fed chocolate-dipped strawberries while sprawled out on a bed cloaked with rose petals. Well, that's not entirely true -- there are some exceptions, like the furious "Hate on Me," and a couple songs involving deep heartache and sharp admonishments. For the most part (and considerably more so than Scott's first two studio albums), however, The Real Thing is for romancing couples. While some of the collaborators -- Andre Harris, Vidal Davis, Adam Blackstone -- are all over the singer's past releases, there's a handful of relatively new and significant associates, most notably JR Hutson. (Presumably the son of '70s soul great Leroy Hutson, he is listed as "L. Hutson, Jr." in the songwriting credits.) Hutson and Scott co-wrote four of the album's sweetest and steamiest songs, most of which have a few things in common with mid-'70s albums involving any combination of Minnie Riperton, Leon Ware, and Marvin Gaye. 4hero's "Les Fleurs" cover aside, "Come See Me" is the closest anyone has come to channeling Minnie, updating the slowest, most sensual sides of Perfect Angel and Adventures in Paradise. On the other hand, "Crown Royal" maintains that gooey, slightly sleazed-out sound of Marvin's I Want You while dispensing with the double entendres of that touchstone; Scott gets as erotic as ever, even raunchy at points, while making it all sound like poetry instead of straight smut. It's almost like she heard Janet Jackson's Damita Jo and figured, "Yeah, that's nice, but I can do it about ten times better."
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
feat: George Duke