SOUND CHECK.Macy Gray/``The Id'' (Epic)
Gray's 1999 debut, ``On How Life Is,'' made the Van Nuys singer with the gravelly grav·el·ly
1. Of, full of, or covered with rock fragments or pebbles: a gravelly beach.
2. Having a harsh rasping sound: a gravelly voice. whisper of a voice the hip-hop Fiona Apple - intriguing music, freakish freak·ish
1. Markedly unusual or abnormal; strange: freakish weather; a freakish combination of styles.
2. Relating to or being a freak: a freakish extra toe. personality.
On her largely endearing sophomore bid, Gray's limited, sometimes tiring rasp is placed in the sharp relief of a number of guests - Slick Rick, Sunshine Anderson, Angie Stone, Mos Def and, mos' notably, Erykah Badu, who cameos on the satisfying uptempo '70s soul ballad, ``Sweet Baby.''
The uneven yet often above average ``Id'' opens with ``Relating to a Psychopath psy·cho·path
A person with an antisocial personality disorder, especially one manifested in perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior. ,'' a slice of party-hardy funk that borrows from Beck in its wildly surreal instrumentation - Theremin ther·e·min
An electronic instrument played by moving the hands near its two antennas, often used for high tremolo effects.
[After Leo Theremin (1896-1993), Russian engineer and inventor. sounds, surf guitar, groovy groov·y
adj. groov·i·er, groov·i·est Slang
Very pleasing; wonderful.
groovi·ness n. backing vocals, polyrhythmic percussion. The gambit works.
Lyrics suggest Gray isn't hiding behind invented characters. She's downright dreamy on ``Oblivion'' and ``My Nutmeg Phantasy,'' believably vengeful on ``Gimme gim·me
Contraction of give me.
Demanding material things or especially money; acquisitive: today's gimme society; tired of gimme letters.
n. All Your Lovin' or I Will Kill You.''
While there are some marvelous moments, especially the retro-r&b grinders, some cuts go straight off the pier. ``Blowin' Up Your Speakers,'' a dreadfully useless sound collage that proves there was a bit too much wacky baccy at these sessions, will spur you to figure out your CD player's edit function.
If ``The Id'' represents Gray's unconscious impulses, we can only look forward to the superego-induced follow-up. Three stars
- Fred Shuster
Karrin Allyson/``Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane'' (Concord)
Jazz thrush thrush, in medicine
thrush, in medicine, infection caused by the fungus Candida albicans, manifested by white, slightly raised patches on the mucous membrane of the tongue, mouth, and throat. Allyson ventures into sacred territory here, offering, in order, the whole program of standards that compose Coltrane's classic ``Ballads'' album, plus three other songs associated with the legendary tenor saxophonist.
Allyson shows an impressive understanding of Coltrane's ballad style, giving the songs plenty of room to breathe. She's nicely helped along by a talented band, including bassist John Patitucci, drummer Lewis Nash, pianist James Williams and a revolving lineup of sax men - James Carter, Bob Berg and Steve Wilson.
An album of understated grace, a perfect complement to Coltrane's famous work. Three stars
- Glenn Whipp
Roger McGuinn/``Treasures From the Folk Den'' (Appleseed)
For several years, the Byrds founder has been posting a new recording of a classic American roots tune each month at www.mcguinn.com.
This disc isn't made up of those cuts, but rather new acoustic renderings of 18 songs McGuinn set down alongside monsters of folk Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Pete Seeger and Eliza Carthy, among others. The result is more musicologically mu·si·col·o·gy
The historical and scientific study of music.
musi·co·log intriguing as the 12-string wizard and his friends favor traditional purity over catchy reinterpretation re·in·ter·pret
tr.v. re·in·ter·pret·ed, re·in·ter·pret·ing, re·in·ter·prets
To interpret again or anew.
But McGuinn's distinctive etherealism still comes through, which should leave both Americana aficionados and Byrds nostalgists more than pleased. Three stars
- Bob Strauss
Steve Blackwood/``Moodswings'' (Positone)
Actor and song stylist Blackwood is an up-and-comer with a nice feel for big-band blues and Sinatra's swinging approach.
Shining moments include convincing covers of Cole Porter's ``It's All Right With Me,'' the Gershwins' ``Lady Be Good'' and Blackwood's own story-songs ``Lauren'' and ``In the Heat of the Night.''
Blackwood, incidentally, appears at Jax in Glendale on Wednesday. Three stars
Florence Dore/``Perfect City'' (Miss Ruby)
American lit professor Dore (specialization: Faulkner; last gig: Kent State) makes longing, lost-girl rock 'n' roll rock 'n' roll: see rock music. with thoughtful lyrics. Produced by Steve Earle guitarist Eric Ambel, the disc nestles Dore's trilling Tril·ling , Lionel 1905-1975.
American literary critic whose works include Beyond Culture (1965) and Sincerity and Authenticity (1972).
Noun 1. alto-soprano in tight, robust arrangements with pleasingly subtle roots in twang. Available at www.milesofmusic.com. Three stars
(1) no caption (Macy Gray)
(2 -- 5) no caption (CD covers)