Published Sep 09, 2016Macy Gray is in a self-conscious phase of her career. The Grammy-winning artist is recognized, not yet revered; accomplished but not yet an aspirational figure. This 10-track effort finds the 49-year-old taking the full-out jazz route in reinterpreting her earlier material — and why not?
Gray's inimitable rasp does the job in conveying improvisational sounds while complementing the talents of bassist Daryl Johns and trumpeter Wallace Roney. A mix of covers and original content, Stripped finds Gray in lucid form; hit "Sweet Baby" offers a bouncy, upbeat flavour, while a bass-heavy version of her biggest hit "I Try" gives the track new life. Covering Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" could feel played out, but Gray does enough to keep listeners captivated. Original number "Annabelle," meanwhile, goes full out on the blues tip and hits the mark.
Stripped is exactly that: fully chilled out and no-frills in intent and sentiment. It's better than expected. (Chesky)