Unbiased reviews of new vinyl releases, audiophile reissues, and more

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Short Spin: David Gray -- Draw The Line Vinyl

Ok, I admit it. I'm middle-aged. The problem with David Gray's latest release, Draw the Line, is that nearly every song reminds me of that fact. There are basically two kinds of pop songs that move me: those that make me feel young, and those that remind me of what it was like to be young. Those that succeed in the latter category often evoke bittersweet images--or some conflict in the listener between what is and what used to be--childhood memories, forgotten places, or lost loves. Draw the Line is unfortunately much more bitter than sweet, with its mostly mid-tempo compositions evoking images closer to lost opportunities, ailing parents and divorce.

There are some positive moments, such as the uptempo Stella the Artist, where Gray channels Van Morrison--and the song's production mirrors very much of what I've always liked about The Counting Crowes. The first single, Fugitive, is also one of the record's high points, and admittedly there is something that draws me in every time it comes on the car radio. The only other song that distinguishes itself from the rest, is Full Steam, a duet with Annie Lennox, featuring a string arrangement that evokes early Elton John.

The two record set is housed in a gatefold cover made of regular weight cardstock and the regular weight vinyl was flat and and played quietly. The vinyl, which was mastered at Sterling Sound by veteran Ray Janos, sounds about as good as most cds--with the acoustic based numbers sounding a bit more open than the electric numbers, which tend to sound a bit compressed at times. Whether that differential is due to the recordings themselves or to mastering moves isn't immediately apparent.

The majority of songs on Draw the Line are very similar--and after two or three doses of Gray's oh-so earnest delivery, it's simply enough. Pick two or three songs you like and download them. Skip the rest.


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