Macy Gray The Trouble With Being Myself

When Macy Gray emerged on the pop/soul scene in 1999 with her debut album, On How Life Is, it announced the arrival of a distinct voice that polarised fans like few others (save Björk) have done. Her love-it-or-hate-it growl made her otherwise smooth R&B efforts unique; her baked-out persona only enhanced her arrival as a new young visionary in this peculiarly laminated genre. With the arrival of her sophomore effort, The Id, she fully indulged her eccentric side and its quirky production of sexed up funk finally matched her odd worldview in a much more exciting way. But alas, as much as The Id was musically forward, it sidestepped the commercial success she’d had. The Trouble With Being Myself is a strangely apt title for this return to the safety of commercial pop/soul radio land. Her voice remains smoky scratchy, but it’s layered over straightforward production saps the life that made her fascinating. So much of her personality has been ironed right out of this, certain tracks seem like a faded iron-on of Macy Gray. Hopefully her artistic inclinations will eventually win out over her commercial pressures and she’ll jump ship to an indie label that will let her fully explore the trouble with being herself. (Epic)