Despite being a proud long-time David Gray fan, I simply cannot ignore a slough of sub-par songs on his last couple of releases, which, though they do grow on me, have a profound anti-effect on my emotions, unlike the masterful tracks of “A Century Ends” and even “A New Day at Midnight”; those albums are true classics and set a real standard for Gray’s capabilities. Yes, I do love “Draw the Line”; I think it explores areas of Gray’s mainstream tendencies that lay previously unexplored, and allow for people to get an expository feel for Gray; I also love the track, “Transformation” which brings tears to my heart. But it was certainly far from his best work.
I was sceptical of “Foundling”; David Gray is not well-known as a prolific artist and two albums released in such a short span of time, especially since the first was to me, not an AMAZING piece of work, seemed shady and perhaps did not bode well for “Foundling”; however, I was proven drastically wrong by someone who has yet to prove me wrong for better or worse anyways.
First of all, I have to call out the title track of the album which to me, is profoundly spiritual and represents a certain quality of Gray’s very distinctive voice in a way that none of his other past songs have done; the song somehow rings true of everything in the universe pertaining to love, and the fractured verses and oddball imagery (I feel like Gray may be the first singer/songwriter to use a metaphor involving a “phoney Santa Claus”) make for a song that is not only God-faring, but incredibly poetic in a way that draws attention to itself and commands attention to details in both the melody, offbeat production and sparseness.
The album’s first single is “We Could Fall in Love Again Tonight” which is raw like “A Century Ends”’s finest tracks but with a maturity and sweetness which strays away from Gray’s earlier material that focuses on militant politics and folk traditions.
The bonus track contains songs that if possible, are better than the collective tunes on “Foundling”; “A Million Years” as a prime example, is a touching and again, sparse ballad that harkens back to Gray’s earlier, less produced material; in several interviews, Gray has called attention to his large production methods and enjoyment of utilizing production; however, he does tend to lose a little bit of the raw emotion in that large-scale world, and his music is best as it is on “Foundling”; raw, static, emotionally reverent, truthful. What this album lacks in production, it makes up for by letting these simple tunes speak for themselves through passion, poetry and seductive folk melodies that are ageless in their completeness and beauty.
Gray has had a long career and a long career in my heart as well; his music has been a part of my life for years and I have to say, of all his releases, “Foundling” compiles all of Gray’s best qualities and is by far his absolute best release to date. It’s a must-hear.