Band: David Gray
Album: Draw The Line
Label: Mercer Street Records
Release Date: September 22 2009
By John Ramacca
Things got kind of hectic at the end of last year and I never got around to giving a listen to David Gray’s Draw The Line CD. Sure I listened to it in the store but never took it home and gave it an active listen, free of distraction and duty. David Gray has never released a bad album and I will give a listen to anything he does. After three weeks in my car’s rotation I have to ask, “why aren’t people talking about David Gray?” We just had the Grammy’s and there was no mention of this CD. I sold thousands of CDs this Christmas but so few were David Gray’s and few were better. Each one of the eleven tracks on Draw The Line demonstrates not only Gray’s maturation as song writer and a performer but also his ability to add variety to his style. Style? That’s right style. That rarely talked about gift that allowed Frank Sinatra to walk through life untouched. The reason why you can identify a Willie Nelson song before he sings a word. I know what you are saying, David Gary is no Sinatra. Of course not but David Gray’s signature is all over this CD just like Sinatra is on MY Way or Willie is on the Red Headed Stranger. You cannot sing along to these songs without sounding like David Gray, like you cannot sing along to Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay without sounding like Dylan. The lush, rolling piano the well thought out lyrics and impassioned vocals all let you know you are in David Gray land. The lyrics to “Nemesis” force you have one of those “man I wish I wrote that” moments. Gray writes “‘Neath an avalanche – soft as moss, I am a creeping and intangible sense of loss, I’m the memory you can’t get out of your head, but if I leave now you’ll wish you were somewhere else instead. I’m the manta ray, I’m the louse, I am the photograph they found in your burned out house I am the sound of money down the drain, I am the pack of lies that keep you sane.”
Track one reminds you of the influence of Elton John upon this pianist/composer/performer. The cello in “First Chance” pulls the listener into the song like the rabbit hole into Wonderland, the entire composition is a well weaved fabric, beautiful and flowing. The frailty of the piano intro into “Transformatoin” brings the listener onto equal ground with the speaker and allows the everyday experience in the lyrics to come across as “in the moment” real. The real treasure on this CD, the great musical moment is the duet with Gray and Annie Lennox on Full Steam Ahead. Annie Lennox has become known for the haunting desperation of her vocal style, it won her a Grammy for her work on Lord Of The Rings and easily could have done so again here on Full Steam Ahead. This track got far more attention in the UK where the duo performed it all over TV. You can youtube those performances. The first time I heard this song I thought both voices were Gray’s, but the I realized that it was Lennox singing in David Gray’s style. Does Draw The Line have the pop appeal of White Ladder, no, but it does not need it to stand out as the better album. David Gray is better artist than he was in 1999 and that is proven on Draw The Line. As for those Grammy people, those folks would have you believe that there were only 5 albums released last year, there were more, so keep ignoring them and keep on listening.