tue 17/09/2019

CD: David Gray - Mutineers | reviews, news & interviews

CD: David Gray - Mutineers

CD: David Gray - Mutineers

Can the wobbly-headed troubadour escape his past?

Gray: moving on

Few albums can evoke a period quite like David Gray’s White Ladder. The way this unofficial soundtrack to the year 2000 interwove acoustic guitars and drum machines even kicked off a decade-long singer-songwriter renaissance. But Gray's success eventually proved a millstone round his neck and he could never really escape its legacy. Instead, he's started making quietly interesting LPs like Mutineers.

This is an album of two distinct halves and it's the second that's clearly the best. It builds to a climax with the gorgeous lead single “Gulls”, a kind of avant-folk number reminiscent of King Creosote's collaborations with Jon Hopkins. There’s real depth and melancholy woven into its hypnotic, layered vocals.

Rewind to the beginning, though, and things are not so pretty. Opener “Back in the World” is perilously close to Ben Howard/Tom O’Dell territory. “Last Summer” starts prettily but trails off and “Snow in Vegas” is pure gloop. But like much folk-rock, things move from mawkish to haunting with just the subtlest of changes. From track six on, Mutineers takes on real depth and substance.“Cake and Eat It” has a pirouetting melody that feels both fresh and ancient, and the sad piano chords of “Incredible” ape the sort of meditative mood Bon Iver built his career on.

It’s John Martyn, though, whom Gray cites as the major influence on the LP. Improbably the sparse synth motifs of “Girl Like You” do, indeed, evoke Martyn’s “Small Hours”. It’s an ambient vibe, full of unrest. More than anything, though, it’s Gray's voice that, on "side two" finds its true gravitas; sounding more pure folk, than folk-rock. Gray says it was his intention in Mutineers to tear up his past and move on. Despite an unpromising start, eventually, he gets there.


Overeaf: watch David Gray's video for "Gulls"

There’s real depth and melancholy weaved into "Gulls'" hypnotic, layered vocal.


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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