David Gray - Life in Slow Motion

David Gray
Life in Slow Motion


First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2005, Volume 12, #10

Written by John Metzger


Twelve years after releasing his debut, David Gray is still singing about broken dreams, regret-filled lives, and doomed relationships, but whatís changed is the maturity of his material. After scoring a hit with Babylon from his self-financed outing White Ladder, he embraced the major label money that inevitably came his way and used it on the subsequent A New Day at Midnight to take a huge leap forward by smartly enhancing his signature style with perfectly placed flourishes of orchestra and brass. Meanwhile, his lyrics continued to sketch the bittersweet beauty of lifeís ups and downs ó even as his musings turned more introspective and personal. Grayís seventh and latest endeavor Life in Slow Motion alters this approach only slightly, and most of the differences between it and its predecessor are designed to refine his work by further removing it from the skittering percussion that marked his biggest successes.

During its weakest points, Life in Slow Motion sinks into well-performed but largely uneventful background music, and when the collection does fail, it is because Gray employs sophisticated, but superficial production techniques in order to hide the flaws in his material. At its best, however, the results are better than anything he ever has crafted. A case in point is Alibi. Beginning quietly with a hushed but heavy-hearted string arrangement, the tune blossoms elegantly into a cinematic masterpiece that is so grand and so perfect that it sets a nearly unattainable level of expectation for the rest of the effort. Fortunately, there are other worthwhile moments, even if they arenít quite the same caliber. The title track, for example, effectively pits the suffocating sadness of its verses against the crashing waves of its chorus; Lately is a torrent of emotion that was plucked straight from Van Morrisonís brand of soulful folk-rock; and spoken from the perspective of a man who has been left lying in a pool of his own blood, The One I Love finds solace within the release that death brings. Indeed, Life in Slow Motion is stuffed with towering songs that attempt to soar gracefully alongside the majestic peaks of Elton Johnís Madman Across the Water, and although portions of the album fall short of Grayís lofty aspirations, itís a true testament to his talent that he sometimes does reach them. starstarstar Ĺ

Life in Slow Motion is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2005 The Music Box