Macy Gray: The Sellout

Macy Gray: The Sellout
Macy Gray‘s 1999 debut album, On How Life Is seemed to signal big things for the singer/songwriter. The album hit four on the Billboard 200 and produced hit singles like “I Try” and “Why Didn’t You Call Me”. Since that time, she has established herself as an actress with roles in Idlewild, Spider-Man, and Training Day but she has never duplicated the success of her debut album. The Sellout is Gray’s fourth album and first album since 2007’s Big.
Big was one of the most mediocrely reviewed albums of Macy Gray’s career. The album was lauded by The Guardian as “flailing through conventional soul stodge”. Gray attempts to avoid these pitfalls through slick production and esoteric guest appearances.
Take the album’s second single for example. “Kissed It” features Velvet Revolver who I was not even aware was still a band. Despite featuring one of the largest rock ‘n’ roll supergroup flops featured on the track, “Kissed It” actually stands out as one of the best tracks on The Sellout. The track has a Gary Glitter “Rock And Roll Part 2” vibe to it. Lyrically it is not Gray’s strongest effort but its strong pop base makes it a fun summer single.
The most successful songs on the album are these type of high energy tracks. “That Man” stands out because its Mark Ronson-style production and basic blues chord progression really lets Gray’s vocal’s shine. But there are a decent amount of songs that embrace an acoustic-soul feel. I find these tracks to be a little boring. Even the album’s lead single “Beauty In The World” pales in comparison to some of the album’s other tracks.
After I finished listening to the album all the way through, it was hard to not feel like the album is a success. While Gray has been promoted as the classic jazz vocalist for the post-hip-hop-era, The Sellout is a pure pop record. Sure the album has its fair share of R&B, soul, and even rock influences, but make no mistake this is as poppy as you can get and it works for Macy.
Rating: 8.3/10
MP3: Macy Gray featuring Velvet Revolver “Kissed It”
Buy: iTunes or Insound!