Like most artists, Nicole Wrays life in music has always reflected her real life. As a fifteen-year-old in Virginia, she auditioned for Missy Elliot in her mothers home. Even then, with her voice so full and arrestingMissy signed her on the spot. Later, in 1998, merely two years after that tryout, she had a debut solo album and a single that smashed up radio and TV, quickly going gold. But back thenyoung and unsureNicole was essentially following someone elses lead, signing the lyrics they wrote for her and in the way they wanted them sung. Fast forward to now, after a few fits and starts with other labels and projects, and youll find a very different Nicole Wray. Today, shes a mother, a wife, and living for herself and her family. So naturally, this evolution followed into her music: she sings how she wants to, expertly writing lyrics for herself and others. To hear her tell it, its these thingsand most importantly, an unflinching self-beliefthat help lead a young and raw Virginian singer named Nicole to become Lady Wray. The latest step for Lady Wray is her new album, released on Brooklyns Big Crown records. Called Piece of Me, the record ison the one handa continuation, picking up where Lady Wray and label co-owner/producer Leon Michels left off with Queen Alone. But Piece of Me is also a kind of homecoming for Lady Wray. That first record sonically showcased the dexterous range of Lady Wrays voice and songwriting by leaning toward soul and Rs still Rll hear boom-bap-smacked drums and chunky basslines front-and-center, all creating a head-noddingly dense backdrop for Lady Wray to traversemuch like the era in which she was first introduced to us. In some ways, Piece of Me is like a Big-Crown-ification of late 90s Rand Lady Wray is right at home. Nowhere is this approach more evident than on the first single from the record. The song shares the same name as the album, Piece of Me, and while it was initially released in 2019, it took off in 2020 and beyond. Its about the people in your life who may need more than you can give, and how that can strain it all. Its no wonder this single resonated in 2020we all either wanted more or wanted to give more at a time when we couldnt connect. Featuring just Lady Wray, piano, drums, bass, and guitarthe musical backing is restrained and expertly executed, setting up Lady Wray for the full spotlight. With its open-and-bubbled bassline and speaker-testing drumline, some rap/hip-hop artists have already sampled this song. And while that is a kind of compliment, its really of little consequence. Only a few people in the world can take this level of musicianship and elevate it. And Lady Wray is one such person.