While she might not be the patron saint of loves lost, she could be in the running. Gray's latest feels like she never left. Kicking things off with guitar- and strings-driven "Stoned" — which could be an updated Cold Specks number — Gray's inimitable vocals own the track. Bluesy "Bang Bang" is rock minded and, along with the playful "Hands," reinforces her knack for anthemic odes. She's at her best on declarative "soul laid bare" numbers like "The First Time" or "Queen of the Big Hurt." A track like "Need You Now" is vintage Gray, catchy tambourine-shaking blues-pop. "Life" is the type of self-affirming '60s Sly Stone-type tune that is admittedly solid, a film soundtrack-worthy number that reminds you why she still has a major record deal.
So Macy Gray is back, easily delivering on expectations. Hell, the title track alone — with its brassy, plaintive horns and matter-of-fact lyrics explaining how she's overcome hubris, personal issues and a drug-indulging past to come out on the other side — is alone worth the price of admission. (Sony)