ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Grayline puts the fun back into rock
Disc of the Week
Chancey Smith's: Great food with attitude
Tori and Live break the silence
Disc of the Week
History is littered with corpses of artists who released brilliant debuts but were unable to follow those albums with anything of merit.
Lucky for us, the phenomenon that is Macy Gray has been able to avoid any such curse with her second release, The Id.
Though her biggest successes to date have been with treacley ballads, Gray is clearly a funkateer at heart and as with her debut, 1999's On How Life Is she is at her best on the jams included here.
"Relating To A Psychopath" is a prime slice of pop-funk, fully harnessing Gray's unique voice. Equally strong is the disco number "Sexual Revolution" and the bizarre "My Nutmeg Phantasy," a song that sounds something like what Prince might be doing if he hadn't lost his mind a few years ago.
Lyrically, the album is not particularly unique, mostly dealing with love gone wrong, but Gray's slightly skewed perspective on matters keeps things from straying too far into rote sentimentality and cliché. The best (most humorous) example of this is mid-tempo strut "Gimmie All You're Lovin' Or I Will Kill You."
The album contains a few concessions to commercial expectations, namely the ballads "Sweet Baby" and "Don't Come Around," but both are wonderfully soulful creations, far superior to her past ventures into this realm.
Gray has also capitulated to the trend of including numerous guest stars on the record, among them Erykah Badu, Mos Def and Angie Stone, but they are generally unobtrusive. In the case of Slick Rick's cameo on a superb remake of his own classic, "Hey Young World," the appearance is actually quite welcome.
Funky, funny and endlessly inventive, Macy Gray is arguably one of the most talented artists to emerge in the last few years. The Id confirms her position as someone worthy of attention and is undoubtedly one of the best albums of the year.
Aaron St. John