“It?s like if you take a Hershey?s Kiss and eat it while on a roller coaster ride to the moon,” claims Macy Gray of ?The Id?, her second album and the follow up to 1999?s mega-selling ?On How Life Is?. “While you?re on the moon, you get your nails done, get your hair done and put on your best clothes.” In fact, ?The Id? is more like eating an ice lolly on the bus into town ? quite nice, but crowded, a bit messy and basically nothing to write home about.
Executive produced (whatever that may mean) by rap/rock big honcho Rick Rubin, ?The Id? sees Macy abandoning the sleek sounds of her last album in favour of gravelly, old-time rawk soul. The conscious, ?authentic? nu-soul crowd ?Erykah Badu, Angie Stone, Raphael Saadiq and Sunshine Anderson? all make guest appearances, while the appearance of John Frusciante from Red Hot Chilli Peppers on the single ?Sweet Baby? underlines the fact that ?The Id? is as post-bling as it gets.
But for all its “fonky” realness, it all seems a bit erstaz. Hardly anthing on ?The Id? conveys the emotional truth of ?Why Didn?t You Call Me?? or even soppy old ?I Try?. On tracks like ?Sexual Revolution? and ?My Nutmeg Phantasy? Macy often seems to be playing up to her image as a fruity spacecake rather than really unleashing her id (the instinctive, primal part of your consciousness, psychology fans). ?Sweet Baby? has a lovely dazed warmth but corny lyrics, while ?Give Me All Your Lovin? Or I Will Kill You?, which tells the John Waters-style story of a woman who goes looking for “lovin?” with the aid of an AK-47, suffers from the opposite problem. Only ?Freak Like Me? (not the Adina Howard song) and ?Oblivion? score direct hits. The former is a tenderly anthemic celebration of disposession in the classic Macy style. The latter, a dark and bizarre psychedelic marching song, genuinely sounds like it comes from Gray?s id ? oblivion is clearly a subject she knows plenty about.
But while Gray?s voice is still beguiling and unique, ?The Id? is basically Brit-award winning, corporate soul with little identity, too cosy and calculated to have any genuine depth. There?s still something about Macy (boom boom), but ?The Id? is more Emma Freud than Sigmund.