Jill Scott

Collaborations (Hidden Beach/Epic)

Jill Scott
Let's get the public-service announcement out of the way first: This is not the new Jill Scott album. Instead, it's a stopgap compilation, and unhappiness with Collaborations is likely to center around that distinction.

Whether Collaborations, a collection of Scott's duets from over the years, is actually performing a public service is another question. In the guest-spot-happy world of urban music, any attempt to gather an artist's outside work should be welcomed. And Scott's honey-glazed vocals and lithe phrasing are a reassuring constant on these 14 tracks, making the transitions smooth from pop-rap (Will Smith's "The Rain") to nearly straight jazz ("God Bless the Child," with Al Jarreau and George Benson).

Hardcore fans, however, will have created their own superior mixtapes by now -- ones that don't include Sergio Mendes and will.i.am's abysmal "Let Me." And Scott's hook-laden singing will give newcomers an often lovely but ultimately misleading picture of her true artistry. Unless you need an introduction to her voice -- and if you do, you really do -- waiting for her next solo disc might be the best bet.

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