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David Gray: Well-Balanced, Refined and Poignant!

By Tom Oscar Adams |

After his 1998 hit record ‘White Ladder’ and his most recent 2019 album ‘Gold in a Brass Age’, David Gray treats us to a new emotional rollercoaster with 2021’s ‘Skellig’...

This delicate album, steeped in deep melancholy and painful sorrow tells the story of Skellig Michael, an island off the coast of Ireland, which devout pilgrims would travel to in a desperate and perilous search of God. One can only imagine the desolation and the forlorn life some would have led there, far from civilisation. This bleakness is evoked throughout Skellig with its languishing acoustic guitar, sombre piano and haunting vocals.

Simplicity is king on this record, from its instrumentation to its arrangements, there are no musical redundancies or pretentious harmonic structures. It’s music that is boiled down to its richest, most potent form where the superfluous is eagerly omitted. Album highlight Deep Water Swim is an elegant piano/drum led piece that would be right at home on a Leif Vollebekk record. Gray’s characterful vocal performance gives the track a charming tone. The second verse takes you away with the introduction of a curious yet gentle stuttering synth and a warm double bass filling out the low end. This, coupled with the lush backing vocals, creates a thick, alluring atmosphere that could warm the coldest of hearts. Nothing short of bliss…

All in all, Skellig is a well-balanced, refined and poignant record that merits a long and compassionate listen. Give it a go, this album will put you in touch with your feelings.


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