Lady Wray, Piece Of Me  
Lady Wray
Piece Of Me
USA 1xLP 
Label: Big Crown Records
Release Year: 2022
Style: Funk & Soul
 
  Tracks  
  I Do 3:00
Through It All 03:24
Piece Of Me 03:44
Come On In 03:38
Under The Sun 03:21
Where Were You 4:15
Beauty In The Fire 3:29
Games People Play 03:42
Melody 3:48
Thank You 03:26
Joy & Pain 03:43
Storms 03:11
 
  Big Crown Records is proud to present Piece of Me, the sophomore full length offering from Lady Wray. This is something of a homecoming for Nicole. Where her 2016 solo debut Queen Alone leaned more towards Soul and R&B with tinges of hip-hop, this record changes the mixture. It’s still R&B with the textures of analog Soul, but there is a heavy Hip Hop influence that brings the sum of Nicole’s career together in a new sound that will define her future. Boom-bap drums and chunky bass lines are front-and-center creating a perfect head-nodding backdrop for Lady Wray to take on the good, the bad, the difficult, and the joyful on her most personal collection of songs to date.

The title track, “Piece of Me,” which has already become a classic since it’s 2019 release is about the people in your life who need more than you are willing to give. This tune and the B side of the 7” “Come On In” were the first songs put to tape for this album and they were recorded with Nicole sitting in a chair 8 months pregnant with her daughter. Her voice is so powerful, so raw, so thorough on these initial songs—it’s wild to think that they were recorded this way. And even wilder to know that she knocked them all out in one take. Long time collaborator and producer Leon Michels keeps the musical backing restrained and expertly executed, setting up Lady Wray for the full spotlight and setting the tone for the rest of the album.

While the upbeat energies of “Under The Sun” and “Through It All” are sure to become hits that reconnect Lady Wray with her 90s R&B fanbase, “Where Were You” offers a behind the scenes look at what those days of stardom in her youth were really like. Nicole takes on the racial tension in America with her poetic and powerful “Beauty In The Fire” and leans heavy into her faith and church upbringing on the showstopper, “Thank You”. She gushes about the profound love she’s come to know for her daughter on “Melody” and celebrates life’s ups and downs on “Joy & Pain”. In 2021 it is rare to hear a varied yet cohesive album with no “skippers”, but that is what you have here in spades. The tried and true chemistry between Lady Wray and Leon Michels has undeniably found a higher level and this album stands as a testament to conviction and dedication for all of us to enjoy and be inspired by.

With this in mind, when talking about this record, for Lady Wray, it’s about a larger purpose. “My goal is always to help and to heal people with singing,” she explains. “Part of that is to try and bring back real music, real singing, so people can feel something again.” Now, she’s not dissing anyone here, to be clear. It’s just that Lady Wray cannot sing without tapping into something deeper, searching for that shared compassion between all of us. Perhaps it comes from her church upbringing, or maybe from her years of trials and tribulations in the music industry. Either way, Lady Wray is looking to bring that “Good Sound” back and the good feelings that come with it. She calls it “those inner hands,” and she always means to stir them up, grabbing your attention from within.

With past albums like the Lady project and Queen Alone, it’s hard to not acknowledge that Lady Wray plus Leon Michels production equals magic. But this magic is also coming from the fact that Lady Wray is now squarely herself, calling her shots, and singing to help heal first—everything else is secondary. “It’s a beautiful thing I’ve always wanted in my career, and now I have it,” Lady Wray says. “They encourage me to be me all day long.” This is Lady Wray at her finest, and she’s giving us all a piece of where she’s at these days.
 
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