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48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2009
Somewhere after David Gray first hit the big time with White Ladder, it seems he started compromising the gritty vision of his early albums with a desire to continue making hits. Who could blame him--after releasing three top-notch albums to a seemingly deaf public, he was unceremoniously dropped from his label before rising from his own ashes with White Ladder, which could arguably be called a modern classic. Since then, A New Day at Midnight seemed like a White Ladder 2 attempt without as strong material, and Life in Slow Motion was a bit overproduced and sadly too slow for its own good, while both included songs that were obviously written for the primary purpose of radio play. Not that I disliked those albums, in retrospect they sound like they are simultaneously straining in two opposite directions (commercial vs. true to Gray's more artistic vision) and their potency diluted.

In the intervening 4 years, it appears Gray has decided that compromising his natural songwriting impulses (which can often be quite dark) in order to try to offer up a couple jangly hit singles doesn't feel as good as channeling his true feelings into song form without pandering to a pop audience. I couldn't be happier; I prefer the imperfections of reality to the artificial candy of pop, so this album feels like return home. From the opening "Fugitive's" pounding drums and piano and the singer's triumphant "Yeah!", Draw the Line is eager to show that Life In Slow Motion's deliberate tempos and subdued mood are just a memory, and maybe that it feels good to return to his artistic roots. It's also clear that he's not pulling any punches this time; the typically poetic lyrics are full of paranoia, the weight of mortality, the slow grind of life and the occasional rays of happiness that can tilt the scales in the opposite direction.

"Fugitive" sets the tone for the album--sonically, it's not a huge departure for Gray--the songs are all based on the piano riffs and guitar that have long been his bread and butter, but they absolutely crackle with energy that was lacking on the last album, and the subtle pop impulses that propelled White Ladder bring just enough hooks to the table without sounding forced. On "Draw the Line" Gray sounds like a man on the edge raving at the world, and "Nemesis" is one of the most touching lyrics of his career. The upbeat "Jackdaw" pairs a catchy piano line with tasteful strings and an ecstatic vocal, and rivals "Stella the Artist" for the album's most energetic rocker. David Gray the cynic (perhaps my favorite side) rears his incisive head on the cutting "First Chance," and fans of White Ladder's weary love songs will find it hard to resist the gripping "Harder" and the aforementioned "Nemesis." Throughout the whole thing, it sounds like he's singing the last show of his life, and his vocals (which have always been a main draw) are full of passion and enough rough edges and cracks to necessitate multiple listens. By the anthemic album-closing Annie Lennox duet ("Full Steam")--on which she sounds to my ears like a dead wringer for Judy Henske--I'm ready to collapse in a satisfied heap.

Draw the Line isn't a perfect album--a couple songs, like "Kathleen" and "Breathe," don't leave as much impression as others, and I suspect that in 10 years time the production (particularly the current mainstream obsession with strings) will date the album to some ears, though not nearly as much as the pseudo-Coldplay XY (involuntary shudder) production of Life In Slow Motion. The haters will probably still malign Gray with cries of "adult contemporary" (well, White Ladder WAS quite overplayed), but I'll argue that they never really listened to the fire, the venom, the rarefied humanity in Gray's best words and vocals, of which there are plenty here. For me, this album proves that Gray is still one of the most challenging lyricists writing songs today.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2009
Somewhere after David Gray first hit the big time with White Ladder, it seems he started compromising the gritty vision of his early albums with a desire to continue making hits. Who could blame him--after releasing three top-notch albums to a seemingly deaf public, he was unceremoniously dropped from his label before rising from his own ashes with White Ladder, which could arguably be called a modern classic. Since then, A New Day at Midnight seemed like a White Ladder 2 attempt without as strong material, and Life in Slow Motion was a bit overproduced and sadly too slow for its own good, while both included songs that were obviously written for the primary purpose of radio play. Not that I disliked those albums, in retrospect they sound like they are simultaneously straining in two opposite directions (commercial vs. true to Gray's more artistic vision) and their potency diluted.

In the intervening 4 years, it appears Gray has decided that compromising his natural songwriting impulses (which can often be quite dark) in order to try to offer up a couple jangly hit singles doesn't feel as good as channeling his true feelings into song form without pandering to a pop audience. I couldn't be happier; I prefer the imperfections of reality to the artificial candy of pop, so this album feels like return home. From the opening "Fugitive's" pounding drums and piano and the singer's triumphant "Yeah!", Draw the Line is eager to show that Life In Slow Motion's deliberate tempos and subdued mood are just a memory, and maybe that it feels good to return to his artistic roots. It's also clear that he's not pulling any punches this time; the typically poetic lyrics are full of paranoia, the weight of mortality, the slow grind of life and the occasional rays of happiness that can tilt the scales in the opposite direction.

"Fugitive" sets the tone for the album--sonically, it's not a huge departure for Gray--the songs are all based on the piano riffs and guitar that have long been his bread and butter, but they absolutely crackle with energy that was lacking on the last album, and the subtle pop impulses that propelled White Ladder bring just enough hooks to the table without sounding forced. On "Draw the Line" Gray sounds like a man on the edge raving at the world, and "Nemesis" is one of the most touching lyrics of his career. The upbeat "Jackdaw" pairs a catchy piano line with tasteful strings and an ecstatic vocal, and rivals "Stella the Artist" for the album's most energetic rocker. David Gray the cynic (perhaps my favorite side) rears his incisive head on the cutting "First Chance," and fans of White Ladder's weary love songs will find it hard to resist the gripping "Harder" and the aforementioned "Nemesis." Throughout the whole thing, it sounds like he's singing the last show of his life, and his vocals (which have always been a main draw) are full of passion and enough rough edges and cracks to necessitate multiple listens. By the anthemic album-closing Annie Lennox duet ("Full Steam")--on which she sounds to my ears like a dead wringer for Judy Henske--I'm ready to collapse in a satisfied heap.

Draw the Line isn't a perfect album--a couple songs, like "Kathleen" and "Breathe," don't leave as much impression as others, and I suspect that in 10 years time the production (particularly the current mainstream obsession with strings) will date the album to some ears, though not nearly as much as the pseudo-Coldplay XY (involuntary shudder) production of Life In Slow Motion. The haters will probably still malign Gray with cries of "adult contemporary" (well, White Ladder WAS quite overplayed), but I'll argue that they never really listened to the fire, the venom, the rarefied humanity in Gray's best words and vocals, of which there are plenty here. For me, this album proves that Gray is still one of the most challenging lyricists writing songs today.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2009
I am absolutely loving this album. It is such an awesome variety of songs and sounds. I've been a fan of David Gray ever since I saw a live concert of him on VH1 10 years ago. I first hear Babylon that night and I thought he was just brilliant. His albums have been so-so to me since White Ladder, but this album is great. It's great background music for meetings, conversation and doing work.

Because I'm not well versed in music terminology, I don't really know how to put into words all of the different levels this album reaches musically. Gray has an exceptional gift for coming up with catchy melodies that don't leave your head for days. Both of his major tools, the guitar and the piano, are played to their finest on this album. There are two guest appearances on the album, one of which is Annie Lennox on the last track. Her ability to match her voice to Gray's is really compelling. If you like Gray, you will love this album.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2009
This is a great album after a few disappointing ones. Slow Motion was just that, very slow and melancholy. Draw The Line is much more upbeat and has already made it into a solid rotation for me. The titled track Draw The Line is a deep and somewhat gritty song for David Gray and there are other fantastic songs starting with Fugitive, Draw The Line, Jackdaw, First Chance and Breathe. You need to purchase the actual album and listen to it in a car to truly appreciate the sound. Hope this helps.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2009
The man is talented. The new album doesn't disappoint. And the deluxe edition was totally worth it, for the bonus live CD. Gray tours the U.S. so infrequently, that his live albums are worth owning. This album was the only thing i listened to in the car for about two weeks, and I love it more and more. PLUS i got a steal through Amazon, compared to any prices I saw in stores or anywhere else online. TOTALLY WORTH IT!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2009
This has been in my player since I received it four days ago. The new music is all great; more like Gray's earlier work, and the second CD of his "greatest hits - live" is worth the price of this double CD by itself. Its alway nice to hear old favorites played live.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2009
David Gray is clearly a perfectionist and takes great care in crafting songs that capture just the right mood and acoustic qualities he is going after. As a live performer he is one of the best. This album has a freshness to it compared to his last couple of efforts. As noted in the song "Fugitive" he may have been holed up a bit and is now letting more out in his work and he simply seems to be having more fun. Lyrically this album is great from beginning to end which is no surprise. The duets are a special treat. This album is well worth the price and near the top of a long list of excellent David Gray albums.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2009
A very good follow up to life in slow motion and continues the more "pop" style sound when compared with earlier albums. As always this album is of high lyrical quality and the music does not disappoint. Here is a track by track guide:
1.Fugitive-lead single and an upbeat tune with a catchy chorus that shows off the new band in great style
2.Draw the line-title track that has great lyrics and again a great chorus
3.Nemisis-great guitar riff with amazing lyrics and a great delivery by the vocalist and a standout of the album
4.Jackdaw-nice piano riff with great strings accompaniment and again strong performance by david gray
5.Kathleen-great intro with the piano and is a really great song another standout with a nice duet
6.First Chance-another powerful song with a powerful vocal performance with another strong chorus
7.Harder-one of the weaker tracks although still is quite good, lyrics lack a little compared with the high standards shown throughout the album
8.Transformation-really raw and moving piece that is maybe the best song on the album with great lyrics and amazing vocals
9.Stella the Artist-another upbeat track that maybe that does not quite reach the heights of songs such as fugitive but is still a very good listen
10.Breathe-nice lyrics and guitar although another of the weaker tracks of the album as it seems a bit repetitive of the styles of other tracks such as harder and first chance
11.Full Steam-a great duet with annie lennox where the vocals work strongly with each other and another standout track of the album

Overall it is a very good offering and is must have for any David Gray fan and even those uninitiated. A few tracks are bit weaker and the album maybe could have done with one less track maybe breathe or harder being cut. However the album is a very good listen and recommended to all especially the tracks nemesis, kathleen, transformation and full steam.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 22, 2009
David Gray fans (of which am I one) will savor the return of another album featuring his throaty, raspy, fully distinguishable voice. Gray demonstrates that his song writing is in a class of its own...he avoids the common pop clichés - engaging his listeners with a full emotional ride tugging your heart up and down - some edgy - some tender - some beautiful - all leaving you feeling alive. I found there to be more depth and breadth in these arrangements compared to his other works - (perhaps we are all maturing and are more relaxed and at peace with age). 'Fugitive', 'Jackdaw' and 'Nemesis' were my favorite tracks. The challenge for David Gray fans like me is that his superb prior works (White Ladder; Life in Slow Motion, etc) set such a high bar of expectation that its hard to follow with another smash hit. I don't see myself playing this album on a serial basis like his prior works, nonetheless, this album is a worthy addition to my David Gray collection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2009
I have been listening to David Gray for years and I'm listening to his "Draw The Line" Album as I write this review. I just want to say David Gray is in a class all by himself. The class of perfection. Ok that might sound over the top but try listening to any music today and it all sounds so typical with the exception of the profound and so enjoyable/happiness that comes through whenever I listen to David Gray. This album, cd, mp3 whatever you want to call it is beyond exceptional. Thank You. R. Gomez
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