September 24, 2005

Review: David Gray's Life In Slow Motion

The first clue that David Gray is taking a chance on his new album is his choice of producer Marius DeVries, who previously produced Rufus Wainwright's genius two-part orchestral opus Want. You don't hire Devries if you wanna do a six-string-and-voice record. He creates booming, emotional arrangements that actually bloom while you're listening to them. This is true of Life In Slow Motion, a terrific surprise following David's last album, a downer dud called New Day At Midnight.

Gray is an immaculate songwriter - there is no bullshit in his songs - no fat. While he does veer into cliche occasionally, his voice and delivery make up for it. He just has one of those warm, familiar voices. I have not heard any of his early work, but I've read that he sang in an awful, Dylan-esque growl and when his wife heard his breakthrough CD White Ladders, she told him she was happy he'd started singling properly.

David's best songs are uplifting pop tracks (Babylon - I defy anyone to hate it) or swoony ballads (This Year's Love - one of the most vulnerable, achy loves songs ever written). There's plenty of that here. I've already written positively about the bouncy new single The One I Love and there are several more instantaneous tracks on the record, especially Hospital Food and the opener, Alibi.

The best song is the blindingly brilliant Ain't No Love which features high-speed vocals (here a little bit Dylan) and amazing vocal wailing on the chorus. If you are worried you'll be bored by this album, just dowload this one song at iTunes and see for yourself.

Another standout is Now And Always a 6-minute epic with a wonderful extended coda at the end (great harmonies here and everywhere on this record). I love the repeated image: "The swans are ghosts on jet black water."

I really was not sure what to expect from David Gray- the last record was such a massive letdown. It was like fame and success froze him. He has warmed up again and made a record as good as White Ladder.

warning: this album has complex copy protection.


Trasha said...

"the one i love" is probably my favorite david gray song yet. i love the harmonies!!!

K said...

I'm so excited about this! Actually, reading your post made me pop in my White Ladder cd. I do love "Please Forgive Me" but "This Year's Love" is definitely my hands down favorite. *sigh*