Was there a single person in the world who didn’t LOVE the hit song of 1999 ‘I Try’?
Macy Gray’s unmistakable husky vocals burst onto the scene with her album ‘On How Life Is’, a monster hit record that sold over 7 million copies worldwide.
It reminds me of my broke University days, listening to it on a tape as I drove around with my girlfriends (no CD player in my 1979 Toyota Corona) and being a lovesick 20 year old in a relationship with a boy that was all wrong for me and I couldn’t walk away from.
Pushing these memories aside, I set up an interview for Macy with journalist Sasha Perera in London in June this year and from that interview he went on to write;
“Ironically this incredible achievement, is also Macy”s biggest burden; the benchmark for her on-going career, which has failed to live up to unreasonable expectations. Since then she’s released a number of albums – “The ID” (2001), “The Trouble With Being Myself” (2003), and “Big” (2007), all of which sounded like they had swallowed the uniqueness and joyous eccentricity of Macy Gray.
“I think it one thing to make music, and it’s another thing to be popular, and all that was very new to me,” says the croaky-voiced singer, when I meet up with her recently to chat about her new studio album “The Sellout”. “I didn’t know how to handle it; I didn’t know what I was doing – I was just all over the place doing crazy, stupid stuff. I think that got in the way of my making good records. Being a ‘star’ is a whole other art that you have to learn how to do, and I just didn’t know how to do it at the time.”
Her last album “Big” was a glossy, big-budget affair, released on Will.I.Am’s record label imprint and featured the likes of Will, Fergie, Akon and Justin Timberlake, all adding their two cents into the mix. It was a fairly forgettable affair. “I’m use to having a lot more control over my albums, and that one was really guided and really produced by the label. I got a little confused about things, and so I had to stop and think about what I was going to do next. I wanted to have something to say, and be refreshing, the next time around. I just wanted to have something to offer, besides just putting out another album.”
So this year she’s come back with an album, written and produced entirely under her control and in my humble opinion, it’s Macy back to her old school self. She’s called it ‘The Sellout’ and with it, she’s proven that she’s never planning on selling out – not in music, or love – ever again.
The lead track is a joyful, simple tune, complete with handclaps, called ‘Beauty In The World’. It has a sing along quality that adds to the loveliness of it but it’s Macy’s awesome voice that adds the edge required to make it cool. The title track ‘The Sellout’ has real soul and groove, as does the final song for the album ‘The Comeback’, while ‘Lately’ is a pure disco pop treat. And even though they’re cruisy songs, the lyrics give incredible insight to what make’s Macy Gray tick.
My favourite track has to be ‘Kissed It’. It’s a glam-rock 80′s sounding hit with sexy, fun lyrics that gets me cranking up the volume, dancing and playing air guitar (to her friend Slash, no less, who just happens to have recorded on this track, along with the guys from Velvet Revolver).
She even duets with Bobby Brown on the track ‘Real Love’. A weird coupling? Not when you find out that Macy and Bobby have been friends for years and Macy is even Bobby’s Son’s God-Mother. And incredibly, this track absolutely works! It’s smooth, crooning, soulful and damned convincing as a beautiful love song. Perhaps it just comes down to the fantastic lyrics again.
Summary? She’s still got it. Both the raucous voice and, maybe even more importantly, the ability to come up with songs that make you feel.
What do YOU say?
What do you think of Macy Gray?
What memories do certain songs bring back for you?