On Tuesday night, I was invited to check out a special performance by British singer/songwriter David Gray. Gray, who achieved Top 40 recognition with his 2000 album White Ladder, hasn’t released a new studio album since 2005. You wouldn’t be blamed to assume that the musician had fallen off the map, into Starbucks-compilation obscurity. However, the songs he previewed from the headquarters of Downtown Records in Lower Manhattan, indicate that this new album may be a return to form. Draw The Line, Gray’s eighth studio album, feels like a rougher and louder batch of songs than we’re familiar with getting from the man.
An assortment of guests gathered into the snug engineer booth at Downtown HQ as label CEO Josh Deutsch greeted us and invited us to enjoy a sample of new David Gray tunes. This began with three new songs, each sounding more bombastic than the other. First single “Fugitive” may not be instantly catchy, but it has a refrain that should please the doubters. Even more pleasing, though, is the new Gray duet with Annie Lennox. A burner called “Full Steam Ahead,” this track is destined for greatness amongst the adult contemporary set. Hell, I’m not the adult contemporary set, and I found “Full Steam Ahead” to be a rousing onslaught of melody.
Following this preview, Gray emerged inside the recording studio to perform several more songs from the new album. They all sound fine. Acoustic rockers, each one. None as powerful as “Fugitive” and “Full Steam Ahead,” but maybe I just need another listen. We will all get that chance, in September, when Draw The Line hits stores.