Macy Gray

There are voices. And then there are voices: sultry, sexy voices that stay with you long after the song has ended. Macy Gray has one of those voices–undoubtedly one of the most charismatic and utterly unique artists to hit the popular music scene in recent memory.

The Trouble With Being Myself (Epic Records) is a cinematic collection of short stories set to a driving, pulsating beat. Every line, every hook, every chorus and bridge are all straight from the heart of a woman who is unafraid of life’s challenges. There are love stories here. Hate stories too. There are uplifting moments that mark how precious life really is. And as always, there are Macy’s humorous takes on the things that make it hard to keep one’s sanity in a mixed-up crazy world.

The opening track, “When I See You,” is a bright ray of sunshine layered into music. The good-natured, fun-loving lyrics are about the joy of convincing a man of your love for him. With light piano accompaniment, Macy empties her heart on wax. And anyone who has ever been in love can instantly relate to the emotions poured into this song.

The powerful love songs don’t stop there–the opening track is actually just the beginning. On “She Ain’t Right For You,” Macy stands on the outside looking in–watching the man she loves waste his time with another woman. This track, one of the album’s highlights, showcases facets of Macy’s powerful pipes that have never been heard before.

Similarly, “She Don’t Write Songs About You,” is for a lover who doesn’t understand how much he is loved and by whom. “She’s always cooking and studying books,” says Macy in a whispered wail. “But I’m the one who writes songs about you.” The plucky and spare guitar snaps lend a live, fresh, unpolished quality to the song, making it an instant Macy Gray classic.

“Happiness,” a bright and snappy mid-tempo track, is the musical embodiment of that passion. “Happiness” is an authentic groove, the kind of song you throw in to get through a day of housework, or a quiet dinner for two. On the track, produced by Macy and Darryl Swan, Macy talks about the little things we take for granted that make us happy every day.

Loving what we have and appreciating our blessing has always been a seminal part of the Macy Gray experience. And on The Trouble With Being Myself, that sentiment is here in force. On “Screamin,” and “Speechless,” aptly named tracks that capture both ideas perfectly, she explains why love is so important for survival. And in this era, her lyrics about loving family and oneself ring true.

Macy Gray has always been able to tap into the endearing and emotional side of being in love. But she has always had a knack for delivering an acerbic wit and biting style. She brings the ruckus once again with tracks like the hard-edged “My Fondest Childhood Memories,” a dark and twisted collection of macabre experiences from a difficult childhood. At first listen, it sounds like a truly happy lark on childhood–a closer listen yields the sinister thoughts of a troubled mind. On “Jesus For A Day,” her voice rings clear as a bell–layered expertly by Macy and Dallas Austin over a smoothed out groove. As the keys and strings match her note for note, Macy spins out a morality tale, wondering how things would change if she could affect the world for just one day.

“Come Together,” with its fine array of horns and strings, is a perfect example of what makes Macy Gray the international superstar that she is. She makes genres like hip-hop, jazz, R&B, soul and rock come together. She makes music lovers of all ages, colors and creeds come together.

Macy earned out-of-the-box critical acclaim with her Epic Records debut, On How Life Is, and the album quickly became a word-of-mouth hit for pop, rock and soul aficionados worldwide.

With hit singles like, “I Try,” and “Why Didn’t You Call Me,” Macy established herself as a force to be reckoned with, garnering Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Vocals in 1999. By the end of the following year, On How Life Is was certified quadruple platinum.

On every track from The Trouble With Being Myself, she brings herself together–from every growl to every high note–this album is 100% Macy Gray. And from one listen you’ll know, no matter what she sings to us, the trouble with Macy Gray is no trouble at all.

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