Too Many Cooks But Same Sweet Broth
Times have changed for singer/songwriter David Gray since his 1992 single, “Birds Without Wings.” Once opening for starlets such as Shawn Colvin and Radiohead, now Gray has his own supporting acts like Jolie Holland. In the duration of the now seven albums recorded, Gray has completed the shift from unknown status to award winning and money making. To this day White Ladder is the top-selling album in Ireland and now, after almost two years of recording, Gray’s latest, Life in Slow Motion, proves fame has little effect.While much has been done to perfect Life from projects in the past (including big-time producer Marius De Vries, more than 50 supporting musicians, and the deflowering of full scale studio usage), the music has barely been affected. Gray still delivers timeless poetic ballads with his acoustic guitar still at the forefront. With simply a fuller sound than heard on previous albums, “The One I Love” includes the same instrumental core and unmistakable vocals.
Similar to Van Morrison’s Avalon Sunset, Life seems more spiritual. In fact “Lately” is quite reminiscent of Van. “Ain’t No Love,” perhaps the most romantic of the ten tracks, starts with fairy-like broken chords topped with gentle progressions on the piano. While sophisticated in meaning, the lyrics roll off his tongue with more of a rap than a vocal melody. “Some days I’m bursting at the seams/ With all my half remembered dreams/ And then it shoots me down again.”
Life in Slow Motion is a jump into the big league. Gray’s voice and style are sufficient without full studio production and instrumental ornaments, but they work in this instance.