One of the most iconic and instantly recognizable voices in music history is back in a way you’ve never heard before. Multi-platinum artist Macy Gray makes her Chesky Records debut with her new jazz-infused album Stripped, an intimate offering recorded live on high resolution audio in a decommissioned Brooklyn church around one binaural microphone. Out on September 9th, Stripped features new original songs, intriguing covers, and stunning new arrangements of her classic hits. She has released her cover of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” which Vulture described as “performed now as if she were on the marquee at a local jazz club in the ’30s.”
Paired with an awe inspiring jazz ensemble and recorded over the course of just two days with no overdubs, Stripped gives Gray’s voice the space and freedom to truly shine. It features drummer Ari Hoenig (Joshua Redman), trumpeter Wallace Roney (Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis), guitarist Russell Malone (Diana Krall), and bassist Daryl Johns who met Gray just one day before recording began. Together, they even wrote one of the album’s new tunes, “Lucy,” on the spot during the recording sessions.
Though Gray is a multi-platinum pop artist, she thinks of herself as a jazz singer. She brings that intimate, late-night feel to Stripped with the subtly searing new tune “Annabelle” and “The Heart,” while turning “I Try” into a glimmering study in muted guitar, anchored by an authoritative upright bass. It’s one of five previously recorded songs that Gray and her ace band reinterpret. “Sweet Baby” becomes taut and urgent, “Slowly” unfolds into a slow-burner, “The First Time” has a torchy elegance, and “She Ain’t Right for You” bobs along on an airy reggae backbeat. She sings with an aching sensitivity on the album’s other cover – Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”
With the premiere of Gray’s reimagined version of “I Try”, ELLE Magazine stated “The iconic R&B singer sounds just as sultry as ever.” Brand new tune “Annabelle” is out now as well which Billboard noted “showcases Gray’s signature rasp as she croons the titular name.”
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