Stephanie McKayâ€™s second solo album, entitled Tell It Like It Is, is her US debut, following on from the success of her self titled Astralwerkâ€™s EP release in 2006. Tell It Like It Is has been a few years in the making, but is, if anything, much stronger than her debut. Infused with a block party vibe and informed with Stephanieâ€™s charismatically conscious lyrics.
Native New Yorker ,Stephanie McKay, is famed for her work with Brooklyn Funk Essentials, Kelis, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Roy Hargroveâ€™s Grammy-nominated RH Factor (which assembled a whoâ€™s who of hip hop and soul, including Dâ€™Angelo, Anthony Hamilton, Erykah Badu, Karl Denson, Pino Palladino, and Common), Amp Fiddler and, of course, McKay, her debut solo album produced by Portisheadâ€™s Geoff Barrow.
The title track sets the mood with its lightly menacing rhythm perfectly matching the intensity of the lyric. â€œMoneyâ€ continues the topical theme allowing first single â€œJackson Avenueâ€ to lighten the mood, with Stephanie reminiscing about the street where she grew up in the Bronx (and not to be confused with the more famous Jackson Avenue in Queens). â€œThis Letterâ€ is stunning new tune, studying of the implications of forced separation, specifically around the current Iraq war, an ode maybe in the age of e mail to the fading art of letter writing (and receiving). The hip hop influenced â€œOh Yeahâ€ is a wind-in-the hair celebration with a cool groove and is already receiving strong club play. â€œSure Feels Goodâ€, â€œSay What You Feelâ€ and â€œKinkyâ€ are further evidence of the breadth of Stephanieâ€™s vision and the albumâ€™s producers, Robert â€œChickenâ€ Burke and Demien Desandie, sense of melody and rhythm. Guest vocals from Anthony Hamilton on the smooth but perfectly pitched duet â€œWhere Did Our Love Go?â€ takes the album to its deepest moment and together they produce a gem of a ballad. The album finishes with a stunningly original take on Willy Masonâ€™s genuine anthem for 21st century youth, â€œOxygenâ€.
At a time romantic and at others acutely topical, Tell It Like It Is is an album full of strong performances and great song-writing. Accompanied with photography from Marc Baptiste for the album art and Shan Nicholson (Downtown Calling) directing the video for â€œJackson Avenueâ€, Stephanie will wow you with sight and sound.