The Music Box's #3 album for 2001
First Appeared at The Music Box, January 2002, Volume 9, #1
ritten by John Metzger
For those who already have an opinion about Macy Gray, her sophomore effort The Id will do little to change it. Much like her stunning debut, the disc draws heavily from the early '70s R&B scene, while folding in shades of both the psychedelic '60s and the hip-hop '90s. Under the guidance of producer Rick Rubin (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty, Mick Jagger, Johnny Cash), she incorporates surf guitar, theremin, and trippy Zeppelin effects into Relating to a Psychopath; delivers Oblivion as a strange urban, klezmer-ized polka; and conveys Sweet Baby as a cross between Janis Joplin and Marvin Gaye. For those who find her raspy, gravelly voice a tad grueling — get over it. This gal was born to sing.
Aptly titled The Id, the disc finds Gray once again yielding to her impulsive side. She clings to a lover despite his abuse (Boo) and stalks another who refuses her advances (Gimme All Your Lovin' or I Will Kill You). She gets her disco-freak on during Sexual Revolution and spews social commentary on Slick Rick's Hey Young World Part 2. Gray admits her manic depressive state of mind on Relating to a Psychopath, telling her fans, "Your role model is in therapy/You must be real far gone."
But the truth of the matter is that Gray is saner than most. She's unquestionably a free-spirit, able to relate her uninhibited emotions to the world with sometimes alarming, sometimes touching, but always passionate clarity. Even at her most frightening, she displays a quiet vulnerability that undercuts her anger, revealing a lonely woman searching for a meaningful relationship amidst a life filled with sex and drugs.
Following the mammoth success of I Try has not been simple for Gray. Her subsequent singles haven't fared nearly as well, and it's doubtful that much of The Id will blast her star back into the stratosphere. That, however, is in no way Gray's fault and says more about the fickle music industry than her level of talent. After all, with The Id, Gray surely did her part, following the same formula without sounding formulaic, thereby thoroughly laying waste to the sophomore curse and creating another masterpiece.
The Id is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box