By Lenny Smith
Macy Gray set the bar extraordinarily high for herself with her debut album, On How Life Is, her tremendously commercially and artistically successful 1999 release, but with her second offering, The Id, she may have surpassed it. It may take a few thousand more listenings to know for sure, but then, like her first LP, The Id is tremendously repeatable. While this album feels in no way like a copy or a rehash of her first release, there is a continuity with it, and the same lushness of arrangements and astonishing blend of styles and influences. That and Macy’s unique vocals and worldview make for thirteen killer tracks, complete with beautiful booklet with production notes and lyrics.
And what lyrics! As on her first album, while the soulful tunes and rich arrangements wash over you, there’s a gradual realization that this gal’s writing from a wondrously skewed point of view. Remember “I Committed Murder” or her upbeat song about suicide, “The Letter”? This time we get “Relating to a Psychopath”, and that’s just the album’s opener! Macy whirls through a dizzying blend of styles, tempos and feelings in songs like the awesomely funky disco throwback, “Sexual Revolution” and the slinky, no-nonsense message of “Gimme All Your Lovin’ or I Will Kill You” (“I held tighter to my ak/He said “Please, please, whatever you need!”.)
Guest appearances from Slick Rick, Erikah Badu, Sunshine Anderson, Angie Stone and Mos Def add to the fun, but the real star is Macy and her unusual perspectives on relationships, meditations on the state of the world, and how best to ignore it. Macy is a totally class act.