Manchester's contribution to the world of music is nothing short of fabulous – think The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Oasis, Simply Red… ok, maybe not that last one. David Gray, however, is rarely documented to be part of the Mancunian sound, but that is exactly where he was born in 1968. Perhaps perceived as something of a housewives' favourite, his last two records combined have sold over 7 million copies, which affirms his status as one of the UK's leading solo male artists.
Gray's seventh album begins in mournful fashion, a sad piano and string combination introducing "Alibi". It features a passionate vocal performance fitting of the moving ballad that develops, and it is followed by the radio hugging "The One I Love". A poppy acoustic melody accompanies lyrics based around the thoughts of a dying soldier, on a track that is as infectious as any of Gray's previous material. "Nos Da Cariad" and "Lately" are nothing more than background music, but title track "Slow Motion" proves to be an epic masterpiece. Once again built around the piano, it is a glorious ballad that gradually develops with layers of percussion and brass to superb effect. "Ain't No Love" resists becoming another epic track, instead opting for a gentle approach, which is no less enjoyable.
For anyone who is worried that this is an album comprising of slow tempo ballads, "Hospital Food" serves as a wake-up call. Seemingly from out of nowhere the hammering of drums signals a light acoustic rock'n'roll affair with a catchy chorus and strong melody – perhaps it signals a direction that Gray would be wise to pursue in future. "Life In Slow Motion" ends very predictably though, another grand piano ballad not unlike others present in the shape of "Disappearing World". Fans of Gray will be delighted but his detractors are unlikely to be won over, which is unlikely to trouble him if his sales records continue – and at least he's not as annoying as Mick Hucknall.
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