16 February 2006

the evolution of david gray

lately : david gray
click on the image on the left to listen. 4m 13s
january rain : david gray
2m 44s

It took a while for me to fully appreciate David Gray's latest album, Life in Slow Motion. I bought it last October and had not listened to it again until about a week ago. Here, Gray eschewed recording in his basement as he had done for his six albums prior, and hired producer Marcus deVries, who has worked with Björk and Rufus Wainwright, to deliver this wannabe epic. The result is 45 minutes of music to scratch your head with and wonder what the hell happened. His formula of unadorned acoustics rolling with a drum machine worked for him very well. But probably because the air space for guitar-hugging singer-songwriters is getting crowded, Gray decided to go for the antithesis: a highly dramatic orchestral arrangement where his voice could soar higher than before. He drives this point with the funereal opening song, Alibi, which makes me draw some parallels with Agnus Dei, the opener of Wainwright's Want Two. Lately is probably the only song in Slow Motion that harks back to the old formula, which also makes it my favorite track. And just for good measure, I'm also posting the heart-tugging instrumental January Rain from his Lost Songs album. I think it was also used in Serendipity, the movie that helped popularize Babylon, from White Ladder.

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