Macy Gray: Ruby Album Review

Story posted September 24, 2018 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Scott Perdue

The effervescent Macy Gray is back with her tenth studio album, Ruby. Struggling with maintaining relevance over her career, Gray has been releasing music for the past two decades and has subsequently been overlooked by a critical reception. Recently collaborating with Ariana Grande on “Leave Me Lonely” on her album Dangerous Woman, has aided in bringing Gray back into the mainstream.

Known for her distinctive raspy voice, Gray is arguably most recognizable for her smash hit, “I Try”. Incorporating influences such as the powerful Nina Simone and the timeless Billie Holiday, Gray was able to leave her own spot into the soul mainstream with her debut album, On How Life Is. She unfortunately dropped off the map for awhile while still releasing albums and had been labeled as a one-hit wonder. Finally reobtaining her somewhat lost influence on the R&B and Soul music front, her latest release, Ruby, is a jazzy and progressive album, brimming with sass and provocative charm. 

Ruby is an album which displays all the facets of Gray’s talent, with each track having a different style of jazz and burlesque allure. Opening with the bright and soulful “Buddha”, the album begins with a proud and radiating hopeful sound. Encouraging the listener to look towards the potentially bleak future with a far more optimistic perspective and dismissing the darkness of the past. Keeping up the energy, Gray then moves into the accusative and ominous, “Cold World” experimenting with a far more dark and foreboding sound.

The album continually transitions through moments of joy and then moves to far more dark and pessimistic views. The powerful “White Man” is Gray’s response to the chaotic disorder of the Trump administration, which utilizes heavy jazz beats to fight the oppression she feels by the current political climate. Keeping with this trend of moving from dark to light, the next prominent track is the bubbly “Sugar Daddy” featuring a team up with Meghan Trainor.

The subsequent tracks have their own relevance to the album and continue to keep up the clashing flow of optimism and pessimism. Tracks like “Just Like Jenny” and “Jealousy” incorporate a playful and cheerful sound while the song “But He Loves Me” experiments with far more somber undertones. Overall, the album has a very conscious flow between bleak and pleasant sounds, which mesh into a very cohesive and multilayered display of Gray’s talent and jazz influences.

Definitely the triumphant return fans were hoping for, Ruby is a very exciting addition to Gray’s discography. While the album has a few tracks that are not as powerful, overall the album has a very interesting and fluid flow, containing numerous memorable tracks which really give Gray her chance to prove she isn’t a one hit wonder. It appears that Gray has been able to achieve a sound that is modern while not too far departed from her previous unique style. Proving that Gray has not lost her potential, originally seen in her debut, Ruby showcases a new and evolved Gray, who is ready to reclaim her once notable status as a major Soul influence.

Rating: 7/10

 


Scott Perdue is a sophomore majoring in film/video. To contact him, email rsp5246@psu.edu.