Category Archives: david gray

top ten albums of 2009

by Gordon
10. LIVING THING by peter bjorn and john

 

I Want You! [LISTEN]

So much more excited waiting for a follow-up to Writer’s Block than I was upon finally hearing it, but you know, there’s still hope. It doesn’t suck, but I wish they’d released the two albums in reverse order.

9. DEAD MAN’S BONES by dead man’s bones

My Body’s A Zombie for You [LISTEN]

This is a band/album few have even heard of, but this Halloween-inspired record from Ryan Gosling and friend Zach Shields, recorded with a children’s choir, is a bold and fresh first creative effort from the two, who describe their influences as Disney haunted mansion, doo wop and 60s girl groups…who can knock that?

8. NOBLE BEAST by andrew bird

Fitz And the Dizzyspells [LISTEN]

As a more recent Andrew Bird fan, I fell in love with Armchair Apocrypha and subsequently his earlier albums. While this one didn’t hit me like his previous, it’s still got Bird all over it, and that’s not bad at all.

7. DRAW THE LINE by david gray

Fugitive [LISTEN]

For a hardcore Gray fan, It may not boast his best tracklisting to date, but it’s not too far off. His songwriting and piano-guitar combinations are still strong on this one.

6. WHITE WATER, WHITE BLOOM by sea wolf

Wicked Blood [LISTEN]

I was a little disappointed with what I see as a step back on this sophomore effort, but seeing as Sea Wolf is still a fairly new band that should be experienced by more listeners, it deserves a nod.

5. VECKATIMEST by grizzly bear

While You Wait for the Others [LISTEN]

Their second full-length album isn’t really a venture into anything new, but sounds close to what you’d expect from the increasingly popular group: bolder, louder and, dare I say happier?

4. FAR by regina spektor

The Calculation [LISTEN]

She’s back with the same great kinds of songs that have grown her popularity to where it is now: sad lullabies, poppy anthems, and everything in-between.

3. WOLFGANG AMADEUS PHOENIX by phoenix

1901 [LISTEN]

Yes, there are arguably more talented musicians lower on this list than Phoenix, but damn it, if I don’t just love listening to some of this band’s songs more.

2. I AND LOVE AND YOU by the avett brothers

Laundry Room [LISTEN]

While longtime fans may not call it the brothers’ best album to date, it’s pretty undisputedly a great one, offering some of the best tunes I’ve heard come from the band.

1. RESERVOIR by fanfarlo

Harold T. Wilkins, or How to Wait for A Very Long Time [LISTEN]

How could such a new (and largely unheard of) band produce the best album of 2009? I don’t know, but they did, and it’s because they’re so new and unheard of that they deserve the top spot.

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Filed under andrew bird, david gray, dead man's bones, fanfarlo, grizzly bear, peter bjorn and john, phoenix, regina spektor, sea wolf, the avett brothers

LIFE IN SLOW MOTION by david gray

by Gordon

davidgray.lifeinslowmotion

Pitchfork: N/A           Rolling Stone: 3/5           Metacritic: 69           Spin: N/A

 

Released: September 2005
Tracklisting:
  1. Alibi
  2. The One I Love
  3. Lately
  4. Nos da Cariad
  5. Slow Motion
  6. From Here You Can Almost See The Sea
  7. Ain’t No Love [LISTEN]

  8. Hospital Food
  9. Now and Always
  10. Disappearing World

   Life in Slow Motion is not David Gray’s most recent album (2009’s Draw the Line). It is, however, his best one to date, as well as one of the best albums put together I’ve ever heard. It was more than just the “next step” from his previous top-sellers White Ladder and A New Day at Midnight. It was at least  a couple.

   I hadn’t been a longtime David Gray fan when the album was released. About a year earlier I had a faint musical memory of a beautiful guitar-driven song I’d heard years before that was sung by a guy who sounded slightly like a sheep (in a good way). The song was “Babylon”, and upon further research into his discography, discovered enough other gems (like “Please Forgive Me” and “This Year’s Love”) to soak in all his tunes and become a fledgling fan. When I heard a new album was coming out, I was mildly excited to see if there’d be another gem or two on the table. When I actually heard the album, my admiration and respect for his sound and direction multiplied.

   The opening track, “Alibi”, uncharacteristically starts with a slow and eery pace with a full minute of growing but understated orchestration. It is at this point that Gray’s vocals boom through with an almost sorrowful passion (“Where’d it all go wrong,” he sings) atop a piano and string backgrop. Halfway through the song, enter the percussion and bass as the chords take a brighter turn, turning the second half of the song into an almost optimistic anthem as Gray belts, Tonight, I’m running wild, with his own beautifully harmonized background vocals right behind. This was a great sign for the album.

   The second song, and perhaps most radio-friendly, “The One I Love”, is more characteristic David Gray…a guitar-driven, happy and heartfelt song sung to the object of his affections. It’s catchy, and worth listening to if only for the “yehee!” from Gray that follows each chorus. “Lately” sets the pace back a bit, with a laid-back, 7-beat electric guitar riff bearing the bulk of the tune’s weight, later being overpowered by piano as Gray soulfully sings “Lately, I’ve been weighed down.”

   A standout track for sure is “Slow Motion”, which again utilizes a piano-driven, melancholy melody where each verse caps off with a drawn-out last word given a melody all its own. The build-up (coming off of a line like “Life in slow motion, somehow it don’t feel real”) lends itself perfectly to the climactic chorus, similar in anthemic scale but with a slightly different syntax (“Ba-da-da, ba-da-da, ba-da-da-da-daa, baa-da-da-da-wooah!”).

   Another personal favorite is “Ain’t No Love”, a somber but beautifully played and sung piano and string piece with a slightly less optimistic tune: “Maybe that it would do me good if I believed there were a God out in the starry firmament/As it is that’s just a lie and I’m here eating up the boredom on an island of cement.” Gray leaves a little room for a few thundering vocal powerhouses (“No it ain’t no love guiding me”) before easing back into a gentle close.

   “Disappearing World” is a closing track that refuses to either be the kind to slowly and gently wave the listener goodbye, or the kind to send them off with a bang…it does both. I find the slow bit (which takes most of the track time) to be a great soundtrack to passing landscapes from the passenger seat view of a moving car, as Gray sings, “Don’t it just look so pretty, this disappearing world.” Then, out of nowhere, all instruments pick up full throttle and deliver a one-minute exuberant backbone to the song, then fall again into a peaceful end to the memorable album.

   The tracks not mentioned have a feel all their own, giving the album a varied enough sound so as no one could peg it as following a formula or particular direction. It’s an album that was more than I was even hoping for from the artist. I was able to see David Gray perform in Upper Darby, PA the year of the album’s release. It will be a show not soon forgotten.

In an unprecedented move, I present the first single from David Gray’s NEW album (because I probably won’t do a review on it for some time).

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