With 15 million album sales under her belt as well as a Grammy Award to call her own, US superstar Macy Gray makes a welcome return this week with the release of her brand new album, the appropriately titled, Covered.
The latest collection follows the singers 2010 hit record The Sellout but instead of taking to the writers studio to pen a track-listing of new Gray hits this time around we are presented with a collection of covers, songs that have inspired and influenced the singer throughout her life as well as some more contemporary inclusions that the singer holds near and dear to her.
The R&B soul singer-songwriter first erupted onto the international stage back in mid 1999 with her debut record On How Life Is which garnished the singer with worldwide stardom and shot to the top spot on numerous charts around the world thanks to the singles I Try and Do Something. Her voice was unlike any other at the time and has not really been replicated since and her songs caught the ear of fans of many musical genres allowing her music to be heard and appreciated by the masses.
Covered is the singers 6th studio album and a record that brings out once again the uniqueness that we have come to love about the afro-donning superstar who, with a whispery yet powerful set of distinctively gravelly vocals that set her apart from the squeaky clean, pop glazed perfection that drips from the radio waves daily.
Here we are offered Gray’s reinterpretation of some of music finest pieces of work starting out with the eighties Eurythmics classic, Here Comes The Rain Again which allows Gray to unleash her ballad suited vocal talents as she begins in an almost spoken word setting over a deep synth backdrop which carries us through the singers take on one of the decades most influential releases. It is a lot more stripped back and instrumentally minimalistic than its original form however the cover carries a fresh and haunting quality to it making it a fine opener to usher in the singers latest project.
Bringing the tempo up a notch the star offers up her take on the Radiohead hit, Creep. The synth finds its place once again on this one and sits beneath Gray’s passionately delivered vocals as she unfurls one of Radioheads most cherished and acclaimed pennings.
Among the collection we find a few scene stealing skits and interludes beginning with You Want Them Nervous where we hear Gray conversing, somewhat pointlessly, with Def Comedy Jam actor J.B Smoove discussing how to make fans scared of the singer suggesting the star have a sword on stage as a form of intimidation to her audience. Yes….quite odd indeed.
Further into the record we are offered a poetically charged and piano led, mid-tempo rap interlude courtesy of Hugh Salk titled The Power Of Love as well as a skit called I Try Is Cool And All But performed by none other than pop princess Nicole Scherzinger who offers career advice on how Macy may be better suited to a career like that of her pop peers Britney Spears, Alanis Morissette and Shakira while giving some hilarious impressions of the trio to form a fantastic central interlude to the record.
Back into the music Gray performs a haunting version of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters adding a soulful twist to the heavy metal staple while Maps (Yeah Yeah Yeah’s) pulls together a momentous and catchy addition to the latter half of the record and guarantees the collection one of its most memorable inclusions.
Covered is without doubt a record with a twist. Some unexpected covers sit modestly alongside an array of humorous and ego stroking (just listen to the closing skit, Really? and you will understand where we are coming from) interludes that you will hear on a record and that we haven’t heard being strung together so well since the TLC and Janet Jackson heydays. This is definitely one of the finest releases of Gray’s career. With balladry and up-tempo hits balanced out perfectly there isn’t a boring moment in the records 45 minute, 16 track duration and, just like the singers previous release, one that I will certainly be revisiting time and time again.
To coincide with the release of Covered, Macy is schedule to perform at London’s Jazz Cafe on the 27th and 28th June where she will perform a selection of songs from the new record as well as, I’m sure, tracks from the stars extensive and diverse back catalogue and I for one can’t wait to hear some of these stunning reinterpretations being given the impeccable Macy Gray going over in a live setting.
::: RenownedForSound.com’s Editor and Founder –
Interviewing and reviewing the best in new music and globally recognized artists is his passion.
Over the years he has been lucky enough to review thousands of music releases and concerts and interview artists ranging from top selling superstars like 27-time Grammy Award winner Alison Krauss, Boyz II Men, Roxette, Cyndi Lauper, Lisa Loeb and iconic Eagles front man/songwriter, Glenn Frey through to more recent successes including Newton Faulkner, Janelle Monae and Caro Emerald.
Brendon manages and coordinates the amazing team of writers on RenownedForSound.com who are based in the UK, the U.S and Australia.