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David Gray
White Ladder
IHT Records/ATO Records


Let me preface this review by saying that the last David Gray album I reviewed, Sell Sell Sell did not make that years top 10. In fact, it probably would've made my bottom ten. I slaughtered it. My wife and editor are fans of Gray's music, so there must be something to it. Expecting to hate White Ladder as well, I was reluctant to be the one to review it. But, here I am, sitting in the solitude of my review fortress listening to White Ladder and not hating it.

David Gray's voice sounds a lot like Bob Dylan's, so my knee jerk reaction is to compare the two. But, that's not entirely fair, because Gray seems a little more willing to experiment than Dylan. While the folk guitar influence is heavy on songs like "Babylon" and "Nightblindness", it's not an independent force in these songs. Gray throws in the traditional rock components (bass, drums, electric guitars) and blends them with drum loops, deep bass drum gates and other elements more often

associated with techno music. Gray avoids using these exterior sounds as the basis for White Ladder. Above all, White Ladder sounds like a guy playing his acoustic guitar. This meant in the best possible sense, because his lyricism and melodies take center stage rather than being upstaged by the album's special effects.

"This Years Love" is a somber piece featuring David backed by a piano. The mild and slow inclusion of strings only enhances this heavy emotional piece. Literally, I blocked out the lyrics and just meditated on the music. It was too dramatic to be ignored and that is the proof that Gray is a excellent song writer. This should've been the lead track as it sets the mood for what this album is about. It all seems like a folk/AAA hybrid up until "This Years Love" and all after that are just emoting with sadness and despair. You just float right into "Sail Away" and "Say Hello Wave

Goodbye." You're hooked.

While this album is sure to be a mainstay on adult alternative stations, anyone who can appreciate good songwriting will get something out of this album. It may have been my introduction to Billy Bragg's music or my renewed love of Bob Dylan's back catalog, but something has changed... either David Gray or me. This is a damn fine album.

-Tyler Jacobson

Track Listing:

  1. Please Forgive Me
  2. Babylon
  3. My Oh My
  4. We're Not Right
  5. Nightblindness
  6. Silver Lining
  7. White Ladder
  8. This Years Love
  9. Sail Away
  10. Say Hello Wave Goodbye
  11. Babylon II


Mike Doughty



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