At some point or another in the last decade, any black artist with something to say was fitted with the ominous label of “neo-soul”. But now Jaguar Wright, most known for her work with The Roots and Jay-Z’s MTV Unplugged performance, wants to show the world the inherent hypocrisy of “neo-soul”.
Most artists bearing the brunt of “neo” are simply performing heartfelt, old-fashioned soul. Contrary to the genre’s name, there’s nothing new or different. As Jaguar so cleverly states in “Dear John”, it’s time to be, “out with the new and in with the old”.
Jag’s sophomore set, Divorcing Neo 2 Marry Soul, is a traditional rhythm & blues album&8211;the type of soulful music that dominated the charts before the thug posturing of R. Kelly and Pretty Ricky clones. Wright’s album boldly faces real-life issues: issues easily understood by any listener.
Jaguar enlisted Raphael Saadiq and Chucky Thompson as producers, which gives Divorcing… a consistently beautiful sound that fully accentuates her powerful voice. This is most evident in the orchestral ballad “Flower”, a heartfelt dedication to her daughter. On her first single, “Free”, Ms. Wright confronts her partner’s selfish ways through thunderous vocals, heavy instrumentation and vocal samples.
The epic “Do Your Worst” (clocking in a little under 12 minutes in length), displays Jag at her most soulful. With a slow and jazzy melody, she painfully details the hardships of her defunct relationship. Meanwhile “Woman 2 Woman”, is an “I told you so” to her girlfriend regarding a cheating man.
Jaguar Wright’s self-penned lyrics (combined with her powerful, church-trained voice) provide a complex depth of emotion, passion and reality difficult to ignore. Divorcing Neo 2 Marry Soul clearly demonstrates Wright’s talents and should grant her the notoriety she so richly deserves.