There has been a real resurgence in the past couple of years for more stripped back soul and R&B sounds breaking through. Think punchy finger-picked bass sounds (a la The Jackson 5), distant horns echoing hearty melodies, splashy drums, all fronted by super-rich, church honed voices.
Lady Wray’s September release on Brooklyn’s Big Crown Records – “Queen Alone” – exemplifies this sound and deserves your full attention front to back.
You get the feeling as you move track to track that the writing and recording process of this album was somewhat cathartic for scene veteran Nicole Wray. Understandably so when you read into the ups and downs of her career since being spotted and swept along with the 90s pop / R&B juggernaut Missy Elliot.
There are hints of vulnerability in the words of the protagonist early on in the record on tracks “Smiling” and “Guilty”. Albeit these are masked with the strength of a smile or a wishful thought for the future. There’s absolute lyrical sass on the short but snappy “Underneath My Feet”. You’ll soon know where you stand if you cross this one!
The standout track is undoubtably the single that has been circulating since the early summer – “Do It Again”. An honest portrayal of the turmoil and anguish that races through a lover’s mind at the (what now seems obvious) end of a relationship. The track showcases Lady Wray’s heartstring pulling delivery at its absolute gravelly best.
We are very (very, very) pleased that the label saw sense enough to put this out on vinyl. This is exactly how this kind of music should be enjoyed, slowing spinning away on an LP12 on a Sunday afternoon.