Soul and sincerity spill out of Lady Wray, aka Nicole Wray, in an infectious and healing manner. The Virginia-born singer carries the charisma of a Jackson 5 family member, while also boasting similar vocal prowess to an icon such as Aretha Frankin. Attending church as a child influenced Wray’s voice and steered her down the path of soul music, evident by the revitalizing energy of her music. Eventually, the budding songstress was mentored by Missy Elliott, which led to later collaborations with the likes of Aaliyah, Ginuwine, Play and Timbaland.
And then came the stumbling blocks. After leaving Elliott’s shadow, she signed to Roc-A-Fella Records, but the label split up before she could record her album. Almost a decade later, she released the well-received Lady with partner Terri Walker, only to have Walker abandon the project before they even toured behind it. After all that, she’s finally ready to take her career to the next level with the release of her forthcoming LP, Queen Alone, due September 23rd from Big Crown Records. Recorded over ten days at Queens, New York’s Diamond Mine Studios, the album was previewed with the single “Do it Again” last month. Now, she’s premiering the latest taste with the emotive and old-school track “Guilty”.
“I wrote ‘Guilty’ after receiving a letter from my brother when he was incarcerated during the holidays and away from our family,” Wray tells Consequence of Sound. “It has a double meaning to me, referring both to his verdict and how I felt looking at the Christmas tree and not experiencing his pain with him. I wanted to be just as uncomfortable as he was.”
And according to the lyrics, she was. “I won’t be comfortable/ Because I know that you’re gone,” Wray states over bluesy instrumentation as backup singers echo and share in her pain. Though as the song nears its end, she consoles both her brother and herself while she wails on the final chorus, “Don’t you know that you’re with me/ Every single day.”
Give it a listen below.