Macy Gray has been cranking out hits featuring her raspy voice since 1999 when she debuted with On How Life Is. Macy Gray’s 9th studio album Stripped is Macy Gray as you have never heard her but always longed for her to be. Stripped is a departure from Macy Gray’s ongoing catalog of smooth and sultry R&B tracks and is a jazzy paradise. Backing Macy Gray on the album are some stellar musicians: Russell Malone (guitar), Ari Hoenig (drums), Wallace Roney (trumpet), and Daryl Johns (bass).
Stripped is her first jazz compilation.and it had me wondering “What took her so long to show off her jazz chops?” Even though this is her first studio recording of a jazz album, Macy Gray revealed in an interview with Vogue that jazz has always been in her blood.
“I really started out in jazz, That’s how I learned how to sing: jazz standards at clubs. When I was growing up, jazz was still really popular. It wasn’t such a small world as it is now.” – Macy Gray, Vogue September 8, 2016
Stripped included some all new recordings that include the opening song “Annabelle,” and the two closing songs “The Heart,” and “Lucy”
The album starts off surprisingly with “Annabelle” a song that is more blues than jazz. “Annabelle” starts of with some blues infused guitar licks by Russell Malone and raspy drum brushes. Then Macy Gray comes in an meanders her way through this sad song…. “My heart, so weak, so heavy, oh yeah/Kiss me, now leave me, my sweet torture” Macy Gray describes the song in the following way:
“it speaks to all the suffering you go through when you’re trying to quit a habit. At the same time the mood of the song inspires a craving for a big fat joint.” – Macy Gray
We are also treated to Macy Gray covers of a couple songs other artists: Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” which she gives a straight ahead bob treatment and Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” which feels like a gentle summer breeze. She also includes a jazzy cover of her Grammy Award winning 1999 hit “I Try” as well as jazz renditions of “Sweet Baby” and “She Ain’t Right For You.”
The album closes with “Lucy” which starts off with a steamy trumpet intro that sets the mood for Macy to tease and tantalize the fellas. I will be stealing a few of these lyrics “Hey baby, baby would you be man… You do all the right things and I’m a fan… the secret is I’m easy baby… we don’t have to make it complicated… I’m ready to give you my Lucy… rhymes with… ” OH MY! I don’t think the fellas are ready for that much steamy sultry sax and her voice.