David Gray's Life in Slow Motion

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When I first discovered David Gray, it was by encountering his song Please Forgive Me, which was quite impressive, stunning maybe, to me as a song in its own right. But when I got the full album it was on, White Ladder, I realized that it was part of a package deal that achieved so much more as a nuanced whole than any of its parts did alone. This was striking to me, as so few albums these days carry a lot of obvious interconnection of their songs, at least in a way that isn't only obvious if you read every lyric and the "behind the music" bio of the artist. Gray's songs seemed to talk to one another, answering questions that the others had asked, flowing back and forth around recurring themes that the words and the melodies created together. It was as much of a "listening experience" as I'd had with any music in a while, and he was consistent in that sense when I saw him perform at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia (right before he was "big" in the US...friends tell me he had a great following elsewhere well before that). Fortunately for me, Gray's newest album, Life in Slow Motion, is another experience filled with great inter-song integrity and a striking sound that seems to reveal a new layer each time I listen.

Part of my fascination with Gray may just be my artificially lowered standards for what constitutes fresh lyrics these days. But his words do seem to have some sort of uniquely inspired power to them. In The One I Love, he croons "Perfect summers night / Not a wind that breathes / Just the bullets whispering gentle / ‘mongst the new green leaves / There’s things I might have said / Only wish I could / Now I'm leaking life faster / Then I'm leaking blood." Ahhh. Or in Ain't No Love: "on winter trees the fruit of rain / is hanging trembling in the branches / like a thousand diamond buds / and waiting there in every pause / that old familiar fear that claws you / tells you nothing ain’t no good / then pulling back you see it all / down here so laughable and small". Yeah.

Gray's voice also seems to help his music transcend a particular tone or genre - he can go from airy and mysterious to dark and pounding to raw and passionate without straining, and the music follows suit. He creates atmosphere with seemingly very little effort, and doesn't for a minute make you picture a guy in a recording studio singing the same song for the umpteenth time - instead, at least for me, images are evoked of a stage floating through the air with a very free Gray singing on top of it.

Whether you're looking to rock out or just find something to drift away on, Life in Slow Motion has got a lot to offer. Certainly if you're already a David Gray fan, I think you'll find it a great addition to his already impressive discography.

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