Macy Gray has had an ample and colourful career in the past fourteen years. Having sold more than 25 million albums, taken home a variety of awards and starred alongside some major heavyweight actors. Her latest release The Way gives us an endearing reflection of where Macy is at now and who she has become as a woman, mother and artist. Sincere, relatable and full of personality The Way beautifully showcases her unique talents as a singer and songwriter. Effortlessly sliding between genres from neo-soul, hip hop, alternative rock, experimental and retro-disco Macy manages to tie everything together with her signature raspy vocals which nobody can deny are instantly recognisable. Covering an array of topics including female independence, triumph over adversity, self love and expression The Way displays once again just how versatile an artist Macy Gray really is.
Bang Bang, the main single lifted from the album, is a heavy, grungy, rock homage to the power held within each and every woman. It’s got a sexy sort of sound with hard-hitting basslines, suggestive lyrics and a racy film clip to boot. Bold words such as “It don’t always come naturally, sometimes you gotta dig in the dirty to get whatchya need.” work well with the bluesy rock feel of the song which hooks us in with some killer guitar riffs. This sensuality and moodiness is executed well on several tracks including Stoned and I Miss the Sex but it’s always done tastefully and never loses sight of the emotions behind the actions, which is the basis of the entire record.
I Miss The Sex has an infectious and seductive, fast paced bass line that is complimented by soft chordal piano harmonies, jazzy flute lines and subtle electronic embellishments. Easily a stand out track on an album that doesn’t appear to exhibit any dull moments. Hands is more uplifting and light hearted. A happy, feel-good melody with sweet vocal harmonies and a charming rhythm that somehow sits comfortably between naughtier tunes. Macy uses some great instrumental arrangements throughout the entire album. Everything from warm, subtle strings, edgy, distorted guitars and jazzy 1920’s trumpet lines as can be heard in title track The Way.
Although Macy has seen some great successes winning awards for her songwriting abilities and acting alongside heavyweight actors such as Matthew McConaughey and Denzel Washington, her presence hasn’t been as strongly felt in the music scene as it really should be. As an artist, Macy brings something unique and different to the immensely overcrowded, over synthesised mainstream market which seems to be dominated by repetitive, loud, auto tuned pop songs that rely heavily on the catchiness of musical hooks to engage their listeners. Macy, like many other female artists in her realm such as Eryka Badhu, Kelis and rising star Janelle Monae, offer so much more than that and it’s a shame that we’ll probably never catch songs from her latest album on the radio. Nevertheless, for those who do come across The Way, you will not be disappointed.
Her eighth studio album is about life, and coincidently was written and recorded during Macy’s hugely successful 14th anniversary tour of her debut record, On How Life Is. It’s evident that she has come full circle in many ways and has grown as a human being. “This album is very personal to me.” she explains, “I want my fans to understand the place I’m at in life and feel inspired by my music because it’s relatable.” And that it is. Whatever background her listeners come from, or whichever path they are travelling, Macy has something to share with all of them. So kick back, put this record on and let the lessons begin because whatever state of mind you’re in, the more you listen to The Way, the more you get out of it.