In 2013, Nicole Wray and Terri Walker teamed up to form Lady, a pair of new-school R&B singers kicking a decidedly old-school soul flavor. Since then, Walker's peeled off — leaving behind Lady Wray, who cheekily nods to her new solo act with the title of her forthcoming album Queen Alone.
The album's lead single, "Do It Again," assuages any fears that Lady Wray might try to radically switch things up. It begins with aplomb, a shimmering wall of brass, guitar and drums slamming in. It's the sort of music that might accompany a prizefighter on her walk toward the ring, and Wray comes out swinging with a song about a relationship on its last, wobbly legs.
The Virginia native remains in fine form with her first solo effort since 2010's Boss Chick, from back when she was still moving in hip-hop and R&B circles. Wray's vocals still carry an edge of that street sass, which is a vital part of how her Lady Wray persona works as a touch of the new blended with the old. After all, her producers are two of New York's most seasoned retro-soul veterans: Leon Michels of Big Crown and Tom Brenneck of the Menahen Street Band. With "Do It Again," Michels, Brenneck and Wray showcase their proven ability to transmogrify the broad range of R&B styles from the 1960s and '70s into a contemporary sound that hints at the past without being tethered to it.
Queen Alone comes out Sept. 23 on Big Crown.