[Rating: 3 Stars]
Let’s be up front – Macy Gray hasn’t really been on the top of our watch list since her turn of the century mega-hit “I Try” went down the pop-music memory-hole. Not that you can’t catching us humming along when it comes over the speakers in the produce section or in the waiting room, but as the Clinton era ebbed into the Bush error, we lost track of this unique vocalist and her distinctly 90s approach to soul music. Sure, she popped up on our radar here and there – like the time she fumbled the national anthem and, most recently, when she got axed right quick from the 2009 season of Dancing with the Stars – but mostly Macy Gray was outta sight, outta mind. Our bad. After listening to Gray’s latest, The Sellout and going back to the music that had shifted through our slush pile unnoticed over the last decade or so, we’re pretty stoked to find an artist making solid, soulful music beyond the confines of contemporary culture. Gray’s voice, raspy and sultry, fits like an old pair of jeans, snug in all the right place and loose in all the others despite being in the back of our proverbial closet for years. Her dulcet tone slips comfortably into whatever genre she fancies, be it the acoustic optimism of The Sellout’s lead single “Beauty in the World,” the synth-swept roller-disco of “Lately,” or the Gary Glitter glam-pop of “Kissed It”. Throwing around the term alternative seems a bit trite given it’s overuse a couple decades back, but with an artist like Gray who is consistently creating sounds and songs that stand outside of their own time, it seems apt and more appropriate as the years wear on.