Soul songstress Nicole Wray isn’t who you would consider to be a newcomer to the music game. In fact, you probably recognize her name and distinctive voice from several places and spaces. For two decades, the Virginian singer made notable appearances on several hip-hop and R&B hits from her mentor, Missy Elliot, as well as Cam’ron and Jim Jones. She also scored a solo career with the release of her Elliot and Timbaland-produced 1998 debut album Make It Hot, which featured two leading R&B hits, “Make It Hot” and “I Can’t See.”
After experiencing a number of setbacks and dilemmas in the industry, she made a resounding return in 2012 as one half of the retro soul-funk duo Lady, in which she paired with UK soul singer-songwriter Terri Walker. A rewarding salute to Memphis soul and funk of the 1960s and 1970s, the duo’s 2013 eponymous debut album featured the acclaimed singles “Get Ready” and “Money,” and received unanimous praise from several music publications and their growing fan base.
The glorious collaboration between Wray and Walker was short-lived, though, in the latter part of 2013, when the ladies decided to part ways due to internal conflicts. As a result, Wray boldly moved forward, striking it out on her own again, under the apt pseudonym Lady Wray. With her highly-anticipated sophomore release Queen Alone due on September 23rd courtesy of Big Crown Records, she presents “Do It Again,” her first single from the album.
With its gleefully nostalgic production underpinned by buoyant brass arrangements and funk-driven percussion, “Do It Again” succeeds on the promise and urgency of what Lady delivered three years ago with their retro soul swayed debut. Wray confidently struts with her powerhouse, sweetly-tinged rasp of a voice, lamenting over a woman wrestling with the madness and delights of an intimate relationship. Through it all, she knows it’s not a fairytale union, but she is willing to continue pursuing it head-on, amid its strains. Trust, this doesn’t sound or feel like a tired, overwrought soul retro come-on either. This is very much a classic reiteration of the romantic dynamics that defined female soul of the 1960s and 1970s, compellingly set in a modern 21st century context. And who better to deliver its beauty and complexity as gracefully as Wray.
All hail, the reintroduction of Nicole Wray—oh pardon me, Miss Lady Wray. And please don’t call it a comeback either. She may have been here for years, but she has finally arrived and we love every moment of it. You will too.
Watch the video for “Do It Again” below and get ready for Lady Wray’s big return this fall.