"Divorcing Neo 2 Marry Soul"



"In This Life Together"

Hidden Beach

Philadelphia's Jaguar Wright, who first caught the ear of music fans as a vocalist with the Roots, has delivered an unpretentious R&B disc with her sophomore album, "Divorcing Neo 2 Marry Soul."

As you might glean from the title, Wright's approach is old school, both in lyrics (such as "You better just back on up, before I smack you with my frying pan," from the remake of Shirley Brown's "Woman 2 Woman" from the early '70s) and arrangements, which tend to be mid-tempo smooth grooves. (Producers included Raphael Saadiq and Chucky Thompson.)

Because the sound has a certain polished sameness to it from song to song, it's Wright's personality and lyrical delivery that sell this CD. She can be sassy, commanding or seductive. On "Flower" she brings to mind a young Patti LaBelle. She sings authoritatively about restraining orders and cousins watching out for her on the skittering "Call Block," the record's most hip-hop-influenced track (Obie Trice guests).

Wright's straight-up attitude makes "Divorcing Neo 2 Marry Soul" a wedding party worth attending.

For chronicles of life after the marriage, Kindred the Family Soul's "In This Life Together" is the place to turn. The group's sound is soulful, old-school R&B while its lyrics explore the life of a marriage. Topics include finding time for each other away from the kids ("Sneak a Freak"), wondering what might have been if a couple hadn't met ("Where Would I Be (The Question)," and maintaining one's personal identity ("Woman First"). The songs are consistently strong throughout and should be a hit with anyone who wants to hear music about couples who aren't in it just for the hook-up but for the long term.

-- Curt Fields

Appearing Friday at the 9:30 club.

Attitude is everything for Jaguar Wright.