Macy Gray has a new single out in advance of her upcoming new album The Trouble With Being Myself, “When I See You.” In short, it’s one of the couple of finest new songs to come out so far this year.
This record puts me in mind of Motown, in the best way. It doesn’t sound like any particular Motown record, but it represents a kind of professional r&b pop with a lot of soul. I can hear the assembly line rolling under this one, with proper attention paid to all the parts of the melody, lyrics, production. This is proper professionally constructed record making.
This isn’t just another love song though, but something much more specific. She details a woman not quite ready to make up with her boyfriend. Better than any but a few songs even from Motown, she packs in several different levels of conflicting emotions working themselves out. She exudes the happy anticipatory joy of make up making out in the bouncy phrasing of the title [“When – I – see ya, I’m gonna kiss you all over your face”], and the underlying funky guitars.
Yet she works in the hesitation, the fear and apprehension that’s holding them both back. Feel the pain and drawing back not just in the words but in the melodic phrasing of “I’m hesi-TA-ting cause I don’t want another fight.”
Ms Gray’s unique vocal instrument contributes much to that effect. She has sort of a Ray Charles style voice, and she knows how to work a little rasp. She’s a pretty remarkable singer.
Indeed, she has a greater vocal presence and effect than any female singer in the classic Motown stable. Diana Ross sang perfectly well, but as a vocal performer she couldn’t hold a candle to Macy.
Perhaps Diana would have been considered cuter, or a better clothes horse. Even for sexy though, Macy does it for me personally ten to one over even classic 60s-era Diana Ross. And what exactly does she mean by “Spray your love all over my face” at the, uh, climax of the bridge? She just slips that in all innocent-like.
Ms Ross did have the advantage of Holland-Dozier-Holland writing her songs. I don’t want to overhype Macy, leaving you disappointed at having something less than a fully religious experience when you hear the record. The underlying song does not have quite the pure dramatic impact of “Love Child” or “Reach Out, I’ll Be There.”
You can have a song a half-notch below “You Keep Me Hanging On” and still have a really outstanding record, though- especially when you’ve got one of the greatest vocalists of a generation at the mic.Powered by Sidelines