After the diverse Covered and a song-by-song of Stevie Wonder's Talking Book, both of which were released by the Universal-distributed 429 in 2012, Macy Gray returned with a set of originals issued through her new label, named (honest) Happy Mel Boopy Touring Co. Compared to The Sellout, her previous album of original material, The Way is significantly less slick -- a no-fuss organic recording that involves some of the personnel from the 429 albums, including multi-instrumentalist Jeffrey "Zoux" Bluestein and guitarist Martin Estrada. There are some notable guest appearances, the most prominent of which comes from Booker T. Jones, who plays on and co-produced the blissful "First Time." Tracy Nelson and Ledisi contribute some vocals, though Nelson's wailing is strangely submerged in the mix of "I Miss the Sex." While the album is brief and was recorded in a relatively simplified setting, there is a wide range of approaches, including romping blues-rock ("Bang Bang"), lively disco ("Hands"), orchestral soul ("Queen of the Big Hurt"), and multiple shades of Southern soul (including the hushed "Stoned," in which Gray purrs, "I've got the giggles, and baby, I'm loads of fun"). The results are approximately as scattered. Gray's obvious comfort level and charm, however, help compensate for the less than ideal quantity of magnetizing material.
The Way Review
by Andy Kellman