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. Today, she released the brand new original song “Annabelle”.
‘Annabelle’ is one of my favorite songs on the album,” Gray told Billboard who premiered the track earlier today. “It speaks to all the suffering you go through when you’re trying to quit a habit. At the same time the mood of the song inspires a craving for a big fat joint.”
Paired with an awe inspiring jazz ensemble and recorded over the course of just two days with no overdubs, Stripped gives Macy’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 a cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”and draws from a very different sensibility for the other cover: Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters.”
With the premiere of Gray’s reimagined version of “I Try”, ELLE Magazine noted “The iconic R&B singer sounds just as sultry as ever.”