David Gray returns from a hiatus with his eighth full-length effort and first in four years, "Draw the Line."
The British folk-rocker made a splash stateside with 2000's "White Ladder" on the strength of the hit singles "Babylon" and "Please Forgive Me." He was nominated for a best new artist Grammy two years later. He released two CDs after that - 2002's "A New Day at Midnight" and 2005's "Life in Slow Motion" - but neither had the mainstream success in the United States that "White Ladder" did.
"Draw the Line" may find the same fate, but it won't be due to the quality of the material. Gray again puts his soulful voice and emotional lyrics to full effect over soft, melancholy rock. He relies less on electronics here - helping his warmth shine that much brighter.
Disc opener "Fugitive" is a soaring anthem that will please fans, as will the soft ballad "Nemesis," which features Gray's typically colourful lyrics: "I am the photograph you found in your burned down house" and "I am the smell you're trying to wash out of your hair."
The sweeping "First Chance" finds Gray in search of redemption, "Stella The Artist" is passionate and upbeat, the mid-tempo "Draw The Line" is earthy and organic, and the ballad "Breathe" changes tempos in all the right places.
David Gray manages to be admirably idiosyncratic yet completely accessible - and "Draw The Line" is a real treat because of that.
Check out this track: Sultry diva Annie Lennox serves as a fitting companion for Gray on the poignant duet "Full Steam."