Release Date: Sep 22, 2009
Record label: Downtown
Genre(s): Rock, Pop
After taking a four-year break from the studio, David Gray announced his return with a new backing band, new label representation, and this new album. 2009's Draw the Line is consistent with the rest of Gray's catalog, proof that the songwriter's appeal rests not in those around him but in his nuanced piano ballads and warm, calloused voice. There are two duets here, one with folk artist Jolie Holland and the other with a rather militant-sounding Annie Lennox, but the best material is reserved for Gray alone.
As we approach the end of the decade, expect an avalanche of lists, including those for its bestselling albums. Dido and Robbie Williams will dominate, in the UK at least, suggesting a divided nation oscillating between sedation and light entertainment. Tucked in behind should be an interloper with an acoustic guitar, David Gray, who began his career back when it was all Britpop and no one cared for earnest singer-songwriters.
Words you never expected David Gray to sing: "Here we are, butt naked". It's the only moment on his first album since 2005 that makes you do a double take. Wonderful as it would be if he followed it by demanding that we wave our hands in the air like we just don't care, he doesn't – "butt naked" (from the melancholy title track) turns out to be a momentary lapse in the tastefulness that envelops the rest of the proceedings.
A lighter shade of GrayBritish singer/songwriter David Gray last released a proper studio album in 2005. It was called Life in Slow Motion, and it was lovely. It was also a complete waste of that title, which could be far more accurately applied to his syrupy new LP Draw the Line. Opening track “Fugitive” and the string-swept “Jackdaw” are plucky enough, but the nine other tracks mostly sink into a mire of hookless, humorless mid-tempo muck.