Ms. Lauryn Hill still has plenty to say with her music. Through other channels, not so much.
The South Orange native, who is appearing on Saturday, Feb. 25, at Caesars Atlantic City, rarely grants interviews and isn't one to engage in casual stage patter with her live audiences.
During a Valentine's Day performance at the Hollywood Palladium, Hill made a brief reference to the passing of fellow New Jersey native Whitney Houston, while otherwise keeping her focus strictly on the music, according to Los Angeles Times critic Ernest Hardy.
"Aren't you tired of losing our people?" Hill said, prior to the closing track, "I Am."
"Love your artists," she continued. "When they falter, hold them accountable. But love them. People are now showing Whitney Houston the love and respect she should have received throughout her career - through all of it."
Once one of R&B's fastest-rising stars, Hill has allowed her career to fall into a state of suspended animation for the past decade.
Since her breakout Grammy-winning 1998 solo release, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill," she has put forth one album, a live, unplugged record from an MTV special, and had a short-lived reunion with The Fugees, while taking off large chunks of time. During this period, Hill also had five children with Rohan Marley, son of the late reggae legend, Bob Marley.
However, Hill has begun to tour over the last few years. She also is working on a new album. Her A.C. appearance is part of of a six-city mini-tour of the U.S.
What's on her mind, musically? At the L.A. show, Hill zipped her way through stripped-down versions of her solo hits, such as "Everything Is Everything," "Final Hour," "Forgive Them Father" and "To Zion."
"There was little space for real human emotion to come through the constricted grooves, and the performances seemed largely perfunctory," Hardy writes.
Although Hill's vocals lacked some finesse, especially when it came time to hit a note with authority, her rapping "remains without peer: among female performers," according to Hardy.
"Her performance of 'Lost Ones' saw her go into the zone, nailing every syllable she spat and sending the crowd into a frenzy," he said.
However, Hill demonstrated her vocal chops and asserted more of her stage presence during the second part of the set, when she performed a series of Fugees hits, including "Killing Me Softly, "Ready or Not" and "Fu Gee La."
"The show was then elevated to a whole other level that was, in moments, transcendent," Hardy writes.
For devotees of this iconoclastic soul diva, the rewards are still there, if they have the patience to tolerate her frequent late starts and mixed signals about whether she wants to even have a career. The good news is Ms. Hill is thought to be finally releasing her long overdue solo record this year.
"I'm in transition, still," she told the L.A. audience. "Be patient with me. New is coming."