Virginia-born singer/songwriter Nicole Wray has everything you’d want in a singer: an infectious Memphis-style soul, a range like Aretha Franklin’s, and a church upbringing that’s brought a pure, healing texture to her voice. The struggles she’s been through has made her more than a singer. Nicole Wray is an artist. And an incredible one, at that.
The track “Do It Again” has a cool vibe and an infectious groove, yet isn’t candy/fluff; she’s singing with a lot of firepower behind a classic arrangement with pianos, background vocals and horns (think Willie Mitchell’s Hi Records-style); “In Love” (Don’t Mess Things Up)” has a sweetness that shows Ms. Wray’s range, recalling the early ’70’s Stax style (I know, I can’t help myself) and “Make Me Over” is slow, jazzy and her voice has a not overt sexiness that makes you hear her message clearly. “Underneath My Feet” is a sly swamp rocker that shuffles along and rocks (it sounds like it just walked out of 1968); “Bad Girl” is easily a single – catchy, infectious – and again, to draw comparisons, reminds me of late ’60’s/early ’70’s Motown and “Smiling” is crisp and uplifting. This is an album that has so much to dive into and devour – with ease.
When talking about Queen Alone, her first solo album in quite some time, Ms. Wray explains, ”It’s a reflection of my soul. It’s who I am today.” Very apt. Released on Brooklyn’s Big Crown Records, Ms. Wray is writing and singing songs about her life. And those reflections are dynamic and hard-hitting.
Queen Alone is available now