When Gavin DeGraw first came onto the scene with his first album in 2003, he was a breath of fresh air. Multiple hit singles, with movie and TV show features and the whole lot. I remember, it was right after I finished high school, it was one of the albums in my usual rotation. In fact, Chariot still gets a run every now and then just to feel a bit nostalgic.
The guy deserves it, having played piano since age 8, and staying on his music game up past his graduation from Berklee College of Music (where John Mayer was also attending at the same time). Chariot was one of those albums that helped you through your girl troubles with that special song (I think Just Friends was my tune of choice).
And then, last year, his second and self titled album came out, and I wanted to know what went wrong. Sure he waited nearly five years to release it, but Gavin DeGraw felt rushed. I tried several times to listen through the album, but I could never happily get past In Love With a Girl (an amazing a single by the way). There were a few good tracks along the way, but alas, I just felt like Gavin wasn't on his A game.
And as usual, I was correct. Why? Because then Gavin, less than a year later told us all "my bad ya'll" and released his latest work, entitled Free. Free gets back to what Gavin does best; being that soulful singer that distinguished him from all the others. His strange but endearing twang in his voice made me feel like a highschooler again. But ill end my digression here and get into it with the first favorite track on album.
Waterfall, the 8th track on the album, reminded me of a sultry R&B track with its deep and smooth bass line. Keeping it simple with the chorus, the word "Waterfall" lingers a few times before ending with "you're beautiful", makes for a well rounded but original song.
I've had a love for bluesy rock songs lately, and the 4th track, Mountains to Move pours itself a good measure in that bucket. There's something about a good ol drawl and organs playing in the background that rounds out a song successfully.
The second track, Free, follows my rule of having a good second strong song to establish the album's credibility as I've mentioned in other reviews (I don't remember which). This is one of those songs that you can relate to what you want in life. Sure, it's a bit cliché and whatnot, but still a solid track that I bet you'll end up replaying once you get the album.
But the best track this time is the first track, Indian Summer. I think the reason I picked this one, is for its originality. The Middle Eastern instruments gave hints of a future of going in different directions for Mr. DeGraw. Sure the rest of the album was pretty straightforward, but he gave us a "what if?" glimpse. Also, he kicks off the album with a showcase of his vocal talents, and that he hasn't lost his touch. Hitting high and low notes throughout, coupled with the slow groove and storytelling lyrics, this is the best track of the album.
I'm happy to announce that this is Gavin's definitive return to the music scene. I stuck by him, knowing that his self titled album was a small stutter in his magnificent speech that is his musical career. Old fans will be impressed I think, while if you're just getting onboard this train, you'll greet it with open arms. I expect to see him and Ben Harper at a show together soon, if they haven't done so already. It's a perfect album to sit around the air conditioned house and lounge to with some friends. It may not be the chemical party that his first album was, but it's one for the collection, I assure you.
Until next time my friends,