[11] Macy Gray featuring Erykah Badu, ‘Sweet Baby’

1999’s …On How Life Is was an astounding success, a must-have and a false dawn; the sort of shot in a million that gives Second Album Syndrome a feast to feed off. Macy was in no mood to let anyone down and steamed right in with The Id, a funk-led mess that put her up there with Terence Trent D’Arby in the “oops – there goes that advance” pantheon of sophomore flops. A distinction she didn’t share with TTD was the sad truth her album wasn’t all that great anyway – but ‘Sweet Baby’ is.

Cut from the classic soul pattern, this is lush, heartfelt, teasing and sincere. Junior locked into the gentle sway of the verse/chorus/verse before whipping out the plastic guitar with its searing choice of plastic riff buttons for the second chorus – just in time for the still-relaxed beat to kick in, and to match Chili Pepper John Frusciante lick for lick.

Erykah Badu’s role is to provide an improbable second Ella Fitzgerald via Walt Disney vocal to support Macy’s, erm, Ella Fitzgerald via Walt Disney lead. It’s an equally improbably gorgeous mix. In the second half, Badu keeps the song honest while Gray lets loose with her Id, and we all love her now and ever.

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