Coming (back) on too strong
The problem with Macy Gray’s comeback album is that, on it, she talks too much about her comeback album.
On tracks like “Lately” she sings, “I am popular, they say I’m pretty, you should come back to me”; another song is titled, quite unsubtly, “The Comeback.” It’s when she’s not obsessing over being “back” that Gray really asserts herself, bouncing between her signature soul-pop groove, stadium rock-stompers and love-struck sing-a-longs. Highlights include the melodic “Let You Win,” as lush and laid-back as a lazy spring afternoon, and the beguiling “Still Hurts,” on which Motown-style “ooh oohs” echo in the background. But Gray’s writing is never as sharp as her lye-scrubbed voice, and though the album is one sustained plea for you to re-acknowledge her existence, a host of guests often overshadow her, from the Ting Tings’ distinct inflections on “That Man” to Slash’s (yes, Slash’s) screaming guitar on “Kissed It.” On “Stalker,” Gray coos, “Just like the ocean need the water / ... Baby you need me.” If she wasn’t so hellbent on convincing us, she might be right.