Release Date: 11.05.02
Record label: RCA
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.
Jumpin' Jesus, Holy Cow!
by: bill aicher
After crashing through the American radio gates he'd been denied for years with his fourth studio album (originally released in 1998), White Ladder, and it's smashing single "Babylon," David Gray quickly became a household musical name. A quick pseudo-followup with a collection of "rarities" entitled Lost Songs 95-98 and a reissue of Flesh came soon thereafter. Still it wasn't until 2002 that Gray released his true White Ladder successor, A New Day at Midnight.
Featuring a return to more of a roots-rock sound in place of the overabundance of electronic flourish in Ladder, A New Day at Midnight acts as not exactly a huge step forward for Gray, but rather a step off to the side. And, truth be told, it's a step that finds him sound more directly on track.
The album opens strongly enough with "Dead in the Water," an acoustic ringer for a future single and arguably one of the best tracks on the disc. Gray's signature vocals and return to superb songwriting stand out immediately, and trend which thankfully continues throughout A New Day.
Where White Ladder focused primarily upon variations of the classic love song, A New Day At Midnight finds Gray once again stretching his songwriting to more "bigger-picture" issues. The album's standout track, "Freedom," clocks in at just under seven minutes, and amidst a beautiful piano line gives Gray the opportunity to wax utopian about his non-too-idealistic political views. Meanwhile, "The Other Side" calls out to his recently deceased father and amidst its somber call manages to close the disc just as strongly as it began.
Of course, Gray does include his signature love songs with "Caroline" and the single "Be Mine" being the most obvious of offenders. Still, Gray's songwriting manages to save these from falling into sappy balladry. If you're going to write a love song, this is how you do it.
Fans of past Gray work will undoubtedly be more than pleased with A New Day at Midnight, and those who were disenchanted with the continual radio play of "Babylon" will also likely find solace somewhere throughout this disc's array of killer songs. Surely it's nothing more than just another David Gray album, but being a David Gray album is something to be damned proud of. 26-Feb-2003 10:41 AM