Big

Big

4.5 7
by Macy Gray
     
 

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Though he's not the first high-profile producer in Macy Gray's career, will.i.am is the first to make a big difference -- but probably not the one listeners would expect. Gray, whose wonderfully woozy voice was always searching for the right songs and the right context, has usually sounded like a certain segment of '70s soul: the earthierSee more details below

Overview

Though he's not the first high-profile producer in Macy Gray's career, will.i.am is the first to make a big difference -- but probably not the one listeners would expect. Gray, whose wonderfully woozy voice was always searching for the right songs and the right context, has usually sounded like a certain segment of '70s soul: the earthier deep soul of early Ann Peebles. Big, however, is the slickest album of Gray's career, with a production finesse that sounds like a different (and opposing) segment of '70s soul -- quiet storm, with its pristine sound, frequent synthesizers, fretless bass, and performances programmed to perfection. These are not the traditional makings of a solid Macy Gray record, but Big is startling and, overall, truly appealing (the first time those two adjectives could be honestly applied to Gray's music). In this slick context, the gritty character of her vocals comes into better focus. The songs, though still written Hollywood-style (with credits often going to three or four or five writers), fit in well with her personality and are among the best in her career. (There's no breakout single but there's also no dog in the bunch.) Meanwhile, a set of super-sized backing vocals gives Gray the testifying chorus she really needs; the opening "Finally Made Me Happy" features no less than Natalie Cole providing backup, and if it doesn't earn airplay on Tom Joyner's radio show, it'll be a tragic omission. As a producer, will.i.am has had trouble in the past when attempting to diversify -- which led to a horrible Sergio Mendes record, Timeless -- but he works well here. There are only a few nods to hip-hop, one good ("Ghetto Love") and the other one rather more difficult (for "Treat Me Like Your Money," will the rapper gets in a pair of stinkers: "I love you like money cuz I love you a lot" and "Baby don't ask me cuz that's the way it is and it's like that and that's the way it is"). It'll be interesting to see if past Macy Gray fans are willing to follow her into adult contemporary territory, while those who might like the new direction will be able to alter their perceptions of her.

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Product Details

Release Date:
03/27/2007
Label:
Geffen Records
UPC:
0602517248878
catalogNumber:
000857602
Rank:
101945

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Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Macy Gray   Primary Artist,Background Vocals
Natalie Cole   Vocals
Jay Anderson   Background Vocals
Davis A. Barnett   Viola
Ron Fair   Organ,Harmonica,Piano,Wurlitzer
Victor Indrizzo   Drums
Peter Nocella   Viola
Philip White   Percussion,Background Vocals
Mike Shapiro   Percussion,Drums
Dawn Beckman   Background Vocals
Emma Kummrow   Violin
Justin Meldal-Johnsen   Bass
Jeremy Ruzumna   Keyboards
Igor Szwec   Violin
will.i.am   Keyboards,Background Vocals
Justin Timberlake   Drums,Keyboards,Background Vocals
Mike Farrell   Keyboards
Printz Board   Trumpet,Keyboards,fender rhodes
Eric D. Jackson   Guitar
Tim Izo   Clarinet,Flute,Saxophone
Tim Izo Orindgreff   Saxophone
Kaleb Speir   Bass
Fergie   Vocals
Josh Lopez   Guitar
Cassandra ONeal   Organ,Piano,Keyboards
Jeremy Gregory   Background Vocals
Paloma Ford   Background Vocals
Ghilaine Gleishman   Violin
Glen McIntyre   Background Vocals
Khalfani White   Background Vocals
Gloria Justen   Violin
Keith Harris   Percussion,Piano,Drums,Keyboards,fender rhodes

Technical Credits

Mary Brown   Composer
Ron Fair   Producer,Engineer,Executive Producer,String Arrangements,String Conductor
Larry Gold   String Arrangements
Courtney Johnson   Contributor
Trevor Lawrence   Composer
Johnny Mercer   Composer
Allen Toussaint   Composer
Philip White   Composer,Producer
Frank Wolf   Engineer
Joe Solo   Composer
Mike Shapiro   Composer
Jeremy Ruzumna   Composer
Anthony Tidd   Composer
will.i.am   Programming,Producer,Engineer,Executive Producer
Macy Gray   Producer,Executive Producer
Will Adams   Composer
Justin Timberlake   Composer,Producer
Mike Farrell   Composer
Michelle Thomas   Marketing
Jean Baptiste   Composer
Betty Jean Newsome   Composer
Tal Herzberg   Producer,Engineer
Jason Villaroman   Composer,Programming,Engineer
Ethan Willoughby   Engineer
Happy Hinds   Contributor
Teedra Moses   Composer
Padraic Kerin   Engineer
Jeremy Gregory   Vocal Arrangements
Jared Gosselin   Composer,Programming,Producer
Hylah Hedgepeth   Creative Assistance
"Angry" Mike Eleopoulos   Engineer
Remi Barlowe   Contributor
Courtney Foster   Contributor
Noiztrip   Producer
Sunnie Swan   Contributor
Caleb Speir   Composer

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