Album review: David Gray – Gold in a Brass Age
- Credit: Archant
North London songsmith heads for new ground on his eleventh studio album
Gray’s first album of new material in four years apparently finds him in renewed creative form, perhaps spurred on for a fresh start by leaving behind his old Church Studios in Crouch End, sold to legendary producer Paul Epworth in 2013.
For Gold in a Brass Age he’s taken a more intuitive approach to songwriting, exploring electronic textures and sound palettes, developing arrangements by cut-and-paste rather than traditional methods, or using the cadence of a phrase as the basis for a rhythm. He’s also switched narrative lyricism for esoteric couplets inspired by fragility, loss and regeneration.
Lead single The Sapling is a strong start. Gray alludes to an episode of self-realisation and progression as an uplifting arrangement of skipping percussion, soft and woozy brass and gospel backing unfurls around him, sweeping the song into the clouds.
The only problem is it hangs together as a memorable song far better than the following 10. Gray’s experimentation has elicited a relaxed, sun-dappled Mediterranean vibe throughout, but that’s about as far as it goes and too many tracks are left feeling unfinished.
You may also want to watch:
The hundreds of nuances, little flourishes of guitar, electronica, samples, even treated vocals, are left wanting of bolder structures.
Hall Of Mirrors is hung on a cute motif played on what sounds like Spanish guitar, but when he sings “dance like no-one sees” on A Tight Ship, amid smatterings of soft ‘90s piano, splashy drum loop and warm bleeps, it sounds ready-made for Rob Brydon to start hamming it up in his latest cruise ship ad.
- 1 Hackney road closures 'will cost lives', says volunteer ambulance service
- 2 Jailed: 'Dangerous' Hackney predator found with 1,600 indecent child images
- 3 Joint Covid patrols launched to ensure lockdown rules are followed
- 4 Police appeal for help to trace wanted Dalston man
- 5 Covid-safe shared workspaces in Hackney on flexibility without formalities
- 6 'Common sense' prevails as Stamford Hill testing centre moved out of estate
- 7 Lockdown: Thirteen card players busted by police in Hackney social club
- 8 Stoke Newington School looks to raise £60K for student laptops
- 9 Homerton Hospital says 'stay home' after 'major incident' declared
- 10 Homerton High Street attack: Man in his 50s stabbed in the back
The mellifluous Furthering floats around in its own musical backwater for four-and-a-half minutes, slowly consuming itself with a shrug, and Ridiculous Heart doesn’t fare much better.
Executed with more conviction and perhaps a more restricted sonic palette, this could have been a very different record. As it is, Gold in a Brass Age will be too anodyne for many to notice.
David Gray plays the Royal Festival Hall on Sunday, March 17.
Rating: 2/5 stars