Released: 28th October 2002.
David Gray first found international superstardom with his album "White Ladder". For the past four years, that has been the only thing that people have really known David for (save for a few people trying out his earlier work). It was such a phenomenal success that following it up was bound to be a difficult job. However, it is followed up by an album that is the natural progression on from "White Ladder", an album that keeps his distinctive style (and his distinctive voice) but takes it in a slightly different way.
What is instantly obvious about this album is that David has had a lot more finances behind him before starting this album. The production is slightly bigger, although that is not at the expense of the simplicity of songs that made "White Ladder" such a success.
The opening track, "Dead In The Water", has had a lot of support before the album release, although it is becoming increasingly unlikely to ever see the light of day as a single. It is typical of David's style, and, whilst not quite as catchy as singles like "Babylon" and "Sail Away", is still a very impressive track. "Caroline" is next, following a similar format, and is another contender for a single.
Other possible single choices include "Be Mine" and "December". If there was one bad thing that had to be said about the album, it would be that "Dead In The Water" sets the tone of the album, and the following 10 tracks are all along a broadly similar format to it. Nevertheless that is a really good format.
The final track is the track that will be the next single - "The Other Side". Whilst it fits in with the season quite well, anyone with any sense would delay its release until after Christmas - to release it before Christmas would possibly get it lost in the rush. It is quite possibly the best track David Gray has done since he became famous - a ballad that is very much "This Year's Love" for the minimalist. It's a completely stripped down track with just a guitar or two, a gentle drum backing, and David's haunting voice over the top of it.
So summing up, this is an album that I was worried would not quite be my taste, but I am proud to say that I was proved wrong. David Gray has managed the difficult second (commercial) album without any trouble at all, As David himself says "After the huge success of "White Ladder", there was a certain amount of psychology involved in making this record. The task I faced was to get past all that, and ger on with the job of writing and recording some music that articulated how I was thinking and feeling in the here and now".
That he has managed to do with apparent ease. David Gray might be regarded by some as a "coffee-table artist", but anyone who has this on their coffee table, has a good taste in music.