Macy Gray’s On How Life Is by Rone Shavers

Part of the Editor's Choice series.

BOMB 69 Fall 1999
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​Macy Gray

Macy Gray, photo by Stephane Sednaoui.

Singer Macy Gray’s smoky, scratchy, full-bodied voice is paradoxical. Let it be said that she can belt it like Aretha, growl it like Tina, and is as unmistakable as Dinah, Eartha, or Nina in her range, tone, and delivery. Gray’s subject matter—tales of lovers lost and good times long gone—gives her work more emotional content than what one would expect from a 28-year-old. Then again, perhaps all this should be expected from someone who honed her skills singing into the wee hours with songwriter friends in an after-hours Hollywood coffee shop.

While Gray’s voice may serve as the draw on this, her debut album, the underlying theme of the record is one of bouncy, resilient fun. On How Life Is evokes hosts of other artists, yet never sounds merely derivative. Here is a record that succeeds in its pop-funk postmodern pitch, blending every musical genre urban America has seen over the past 30 years, yet managing to fuse that with enough inventiveness, energy, and attitude to make it a completely contemporary sound. This is, after all, essentially pop music, and sometimes, especially when summer fades, it is that pop record—associated worldwide with driving with the top down—which is the one you really miss.

—Rone Shavers


On How Life Is was recently released on Clean Slate/Epic records.

Terence Gower by Pedro Reyes
New Orleans Funk, New Orleans: The Original Sound of Funk, Volume 2: The Second Line Strut by Ben Lasman
268105831 01292015 Ben Lasman Bomb 105

It’s an iffy conceit, packaging a glut of obscure tunes from the same period and place, and then inventing a genre to cohere them. 

Winning and Losing: Bladee and Mechatok Interviewed by Alexander Iadarola
Two portraits side by side. On the left is musical artist Bladee wearing a black mesh helmet with tall, pointed ears and holding a silver coin up to his right eye. On the right is producer Mechatok, a young man with a buzzcut holding two fingers with acrylic nails that have flames coming off of them.

On techno-spirituality, impending doom, and making failed pop songs.

Rufus Wainwright by Rakesh Satyal
Rufus Wainwright performing Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall at Carnegie Hall, 2006. Photo by Gus Powell. Courtesy of the artist.

Wainwright talks about his tenth studio album, the “anemic” state of pop lyrics, and why Leonard Cohen—not Bob Dylan—should have won the Nobel Prize.

Originally published in

BOMB 69, Fall 1999

Featuring interviews with Errol Morris, Peggy Shaw, Laurie Anderson, Carlo Ginzburg, Raymond Pettibon, Judy Pfaff, Mellisa Marks, Edward Said, and Margaret Cezair-Thompson. 

Read the issue
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