David Gray: Foundling
In 1999, David Gray was being hailed as the new Bob Dylan. His single “Babylon” had just hit the MTV airwaves and people were loving his retro-folk style. Unfortunately, the success was all too temporary in the United States. Gray remained relevant in the UK where his next two albums went multiple times platinum, but only his 2002 album, A New Day at Midnight had any type of showing in the US where it went gold. In 2010, Gray released Foundling an album looking to re-establish himself.
If I had written this review back in August when the album first came out, I would try to build suspense and make readers want to know if David Grey would make some grand comeback; unfortunately, I am reviewing the album almost half a year later and the album statistics are widely available. Foundling was Gray’s worst commercial showing in the UK since his breakout with “Babylon”; the album stalled on the charts at number 18. Conversely, the album was David Gray’s best showing ever in the US with the album peaking at number 9 on the Billboard 200. Despite the feat, the album has not achieved gold status in the states.
So why such a poor showing for Mr. Gray? The critics were not kind to the album. The Independent called the album “swaddled in ‘poetic’ obfuscation it’s hard to summon enough interest to decode…” Ouch. But the review is not terribly far off. Dragging piano ballads like “The Old Chair” bog down the album’s flow and put the listener to sleep.
Despite some of the more boring content on the album, there are a couple of gems on the album. Opening track “Only The Wine” has a jazzy folk drum beat that reminds me of something off of Bob Dylan’s Love and Theft album (“Po’ Boy” to be specific). The song “Foundling” is also a fairly good track. The track is recorded with a more open airy feel with the only real instruments for most of the track being bongos, electric guitar, and accordion. Gray gives the song a soulful vocal performance reminiscent of Tom Jones‘s latest album, Praise & Blame.
While the good songs are pretty good, the album overall feels like a real downer. I got through listening to the album and felt like I had just read a compendium of suicide notes; it’s that depressing. What made “Babylon” great was that it had some hope to it, Foundling sounds like a very hopeless album.
MP3: David Gray “Foundling”
David Gray: Foundling