On paper, Macy Gray's new album should be a shoe-in. Her voice is so distinct and different that it easily sets her apart from the slew of mediocre R&B singers. But I'm not feeling most of the songs on her new album "Big" that will be out in stores on March 27.
After 1999's memorable "I Try," Gray desperately needs a hit. She turned to hitmakers Will.i.am, Robin Fair (Mary J Blige) and Justin Timberlake to come up with some radio-friendly tracks for the record. She also invited a whole batch of stars to make cameos on the album including Fergie, NAS and Natalie Cole.
I listened to an advance copy and was horrified by some of the tracks on "Big." You know how American Idol's Simon Cowell often judges amateur talent on the basis of song selection? Gray should have kept that in mind. Instead of keeping her style eclectic and fresh across the record, Gray primarily chose to go with cookie cutter productions that don't do any justice to her idiosyncratic style and vocals. No, Macy you are not a Pussycat Doll.
Exceptions are the whimsical "One For Me," the blues stomper "Everybody," the hilarious storytelling on "Strange Behavior" and the 80's inspired "Treat Me Like Your Money" that incorporates a playful quote of Dead Or Alive's gay classic "You Spin Me Around (Like A Record)." Now, this is the Gray I love and want to hear more from.
Listen to the first single "Finally Made Me Happy" that sparkles as soon as Natalie Cole harmonizes with Gray. This is Cole's gig, not Gray's. (Click here to purchase "Finally Made Me Happy" on iTunes.)