"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wSaturday, December 03, 2005

THE SEAGULLS KNOW THE TRUTH OF IT / AND SCREAM IT OVERHEAD: He's been around the block a few times but I don't think I heard a David Gray song until I caught "The One I Love" on a sampler about a month ago. It's a beautiful number about a guy getting shot and dying. Think of "Last Kiss" except a) the Eddie Vedder character is the one slipping away and b) Gray has a better voice.

The tone of the song really cuts agains the subject matter. It took a few casual doing-other-things-type listens until I figured out what "As the tracer glides / In its graceful arc" was talking about.

So I ordered the album, Life in Slow Motion, half expecting that "The One I Love" would be the only good song. Happy to report that my pessimism went unrewarded.

There are quite a few memorable songs and Gray's vocal performances are decent. He manages to pull off things that I would find annoying in other singers. For instance, he occasionally rhymes words that don't rhyme with each other:

A bucketful of Babylon
A belly full of hate
Go to sleep my one true love
And may your dreams be sweet

Overall, the album is memorable not because it plumbs Gray's depths but because he turns the focus outward. On his website, Gray explained that with the last album A New Day At Midnight, "I'd taken the personal as far as I cared to go."

Instead of telling us about his own experience, he tried to get into other people's heads. Every song in this CD is from the perspective of a different character. You have the dying but settled whisperer of "The One I Love" --

Don't see Elysium
Don't see no fiery hell
Just the lights up bright baby
In the bay hotel

-- the apocalyptic chanter of "Nos da Cariad" --

The sun above the cotton grass
Is sinking down like lead
The seagulls know the truth of it
And scream it overhead
Hold on to St. Christopher
The sky is murderous red

-- and the cynical singer of "Ain't No Love," with the honest refrain "This ain't no love that's guiding me."

Lyrics are only one part of music, but the lyrics and the tunes of Life in Slow Motion go well together. It's a haunting album that manages to get at depth through distance.

posted by Jeremy at 2:47 AM