Macy Gray is back with her amalgamation of jazz and R&B flavorings. Most jazzers love both genres as they offer the soulfulness that each genre has to offer. Mack Avenue most notably tied to the jazz genre has released the album and yes, there has been confusion as to whether it is jazz or an R&B album. Gray states “With my stuff there is always a jazz element. That is what I grew up on.” Ok, then, that works for me. The album features a large array of musicians: Macy Gray: vocals; Gary Clark Junior: guitar; Johan Carlsson, Thomas Lumpkins, Meghan Trainor, Tommy Brown, Scott Bruzenak, Britten Newbill: synthesizer; Billy Wesson, John Jackson Junior: piano; Mattias Bylund, Leah Zeager: strings; Mattias Johansson: violin; David Bukovinszky: cello; Christopher Johnson: trombone; Printz Board, Jan-Anders Bjerge, Stuart Cole: trumpet; Tim “Izo” Orindgreff: saxophone and flute; Wojtek Coral: saxophone; Tomas Jonsson: tenor sax; Peter Noos Johansson, Chris Johnson: trombone; Thomas Lumpkins, Austin Brown: xylophone; Michael Engstrom, Alex Kyne, Caleb Speir: bass; Austin Brown, Gabriel Santana, Trevor Lawrence Junior, Tamir Barzilay: drums.
In Gray’s confessional way with a Billie Holiday rasp to her voice, the album begins with “Budda,” the lyrics reflect a journey of an artist and person who is in her forties now and life’s meaning is deepening. As one ages, many times some type of spiritual meaning always seems to reveal itself, and this is reflected in Gray’s soothsayer lyrics.
“Tell Me,” highlights the jazziest number on the album. A swanky poetic reading of love and its many trifles. Gray is her own woman, and pure to her style. It feels like you are transported to a speakeasy of times gone by. Whereas, “When it Ends,” is more drenched is swirling production as Gray sings about heartbreak and anguish, you can hear her pain radiating in each groove of the music.
Gray is one of those uniquely original artists on the scene today. Recording since 1999, her thirst to explore and keep pushing herself continues with each release. Ruby is no different. Gray spins out reckoning lyrics that stick to your bones and rattle your ears. A welcomed listen.