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Album Spotlight: Life in Slow Motion

David Gray celebrates his 55th birthday this week (June 13, 2023), so we’re revisiting his seventh album, "Life in Slow Motion," from 2005. After a three-year hiatus between albums, Gray took his band into a regular recording studio to cut tracks for the first time in a while. Said Gray at the time, “I really wanted to get away from that lo-fi bedroom, programming, Midi side of things.” But, he said, he also “wanted to experiment, so a lot of the songs came out of playing as a band or messing around with sounds.”

The album began with “Alibi,” a good example of what Gray meant by getting out of the bedroom. Although the track could easily have been arranged as an understated, piano-based song, it had a full orchestra performing along, adding a lushness not often heard on Gray’s albums. “Alibi” and the first single “The One I Love” both featured an orchestra, and two others have a string or horn section.

Gone were the electronic beats from the backing tracks, as in previous songs like “Babylon” or “Caroline.” Instead, Gray tried his hand at songs like the terrific “Hospital Food” which hints at a classic Phil Spector arrangement mixed with New Wave-ish keyboard runs. Life in Slow Motion was produced by Marius De Vries, who did some keyboard programming for Gray on the White Ladder album. This was the first time after several albums that Gray has had an outside producer, preferring to handle those chores himself with his band. Gray’s lyrics were concerned with people not able or willing to come to grips with their surroundings. Some of the songs, like “Lately,” waxed poetic about broken urban landscapes. “Taste the broken hearts in the vacant lots,” Gray sang. “See the fruit that rots on the trees.”

Regardless of the subject matter, Gray’s incredible vocals nearly always hit their target with power and conviction.