13 Songs, 47 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Since her previous album, 2003’s The Trouble With Being Myself, was a commercial letdown, Gray approaches her follow-up with a newfound attention to slicker production detail, courtesy of producer and record label honcho Ron Fair (Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige) and Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am. The extra-layered backing vocals, the smooth, seamless grooves, the occasional nod to modern R&B and hip-hop (“Ghetto Love”) among the updates to the string-fueled Philly Soul that she prefers all mean Gray has not so much been relocated as refurbished. At center, she’s still the same raspy voiced vocalist who makes old-timers think of Etta James and Ann Peebles and causes newcomers to amaze at her true grit. “Okay,” written by will.i.am and Justin Timberlake (!), neatly merges the generational divide, while “Glad You’re Here,” featuring Fergie, sweetly elicits the romance of late-‘60s-early ‘70s soul. Concerns of divorce, single motherhood and eventual resolution build a narrative arc. However, it’s easiest to simply enjoy the sultry stalk of “Strange Behavior” or the light and airy flow of “Slowly” for the easy-cruising tracks they are.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Since her previous album, 2003’s The Trouble With Being Myself, was a commercial letdown, Gray approaches her follow-up with a newfound attention to slicker production detail, courtesy of producer and record label honcho Ron Fair (Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige) and Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am. The extra-layered backing vocals, the smooth, seamless grooves, the occasional nod to modern R&B and hip-hop (“Ghetto Love”) among the updates to the string-fueled Philly Soul that she prefers all mean Gray has not so much been relocated as refurbished. At center, she’s still the same raspy voiced vocalist who makes old-timers think of Etta James and Ann Peebles and causes newcomers to amaze at her true grit. “Okay,” written by will.i.am and Justin Timberlake (!), neatly merges the generational divide, while “Glad You’re Here,” featuring Fergie, sweetly elicits the romance of late-‘60s-early ‘70s soul. Concerns of divorce, single motherhood and eventual resolution build a narrative arc. However, it’s easiest to simply enjoy the sultry stalk of “Strange Behavior” or the light and airy flow of “Slowly” for the easy-cruising tracks they are.

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