Album: David Gray, Draw the Line (Polydor)

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The Independent Culture

It's taken David Gray four years to follow up Life in Slow Motion, and frankly, you have to wonder what's been holding him up, as these 11 pleasant, predictable songs represent no great development or deviation from the course of his previous work.

The single "Fugitive" – so obviously this album's "Babylon" that it could be from the same mould – opens proceedings in anthemic manner, its descending piano figure stalking along as Gray advises someone (himself?) to "get that twinkling in your eye". From there it's business as usual, with twinkling beds of arpeggiated guitar and rolling rhythms carrying Gray's world-weary, Woodbine drawl as he ponders his situation. In the ebullient "Stella the Artist", he's "gibbering like a lunatic" with love; in "Nemesis", he's "the memory you can't get out of your head"; but it's hard to see why anyone else should be that interested in these songs, save for the occasional intriguing image, such as "there are carnivals of silverfish waiting to dance upon our bones". Likewise, musically it's steadfastly stuck in the middle of the road, except for what sounds like the weird, sharp whine of cello pulled like a strand through "First Chance". Annie Lennox pops up to duet on "Full Steam Ahead", as does Jolie Holland on "Kathleen", neither shifting the results into a much more interesting position.

Download this: 'Fugitive', 'Draw the Line', 'First Chance'