Mutineers is the 10th Album by singer songwriter David Gray and his first for four years.
Gray, in numerous recent interviews, has said that this album is a break from his past and represents something of a new direction. Produced by Andy Barlow (once of Hip-hop Duo Lamb), one could reasonably assume that this would be a fairly radicle departure. After all Gray even goes as far a s saying that some of the tracks were written with Barlow whilst in the studio.
In reality though, at least for me, this album treads a well worn path. The songs on the whole (with a couple of exceptions) are very clearly David Gray. The opener has Gray proclaiming that “everyday feels like a saturday” and the theme of optimism continues throughout. The first clue that Gray feels he has moved on comes in ‘As the Crow Flies’ where the lyrics “Apart of me present, a part of me past” suggests a man who feels he wants to move on but is trapped by the past. In the title track he claims he is “trying to shake the monkey off his back” and both ‘The Incredible’ and ‘A girl like you’ suggest a man who has battled with his demons and found a new contentment.
It is never clear (at least to me) whether the monkey on Grays back is a lover or perhaps a relentless, and futile, stubble to be defined by something other than his seminal ‘White ladder’ album.
On the whole I feel that the engineering and mixing of the album is rich and layered, the Cello and strings complementing trays guitar and piano, but to my ear the electronic trickery brought by the producer detracts from Gray’s voice and the instruments. Gray is after all a very good guitarist and pianist, this probably reflects my love of acoustic music rather than any real deficiency in the recording.
This is a collection of songs with a comforting familiarity, well suited to Gray’s vocal range and phrasing. I must confess though that I fail to see the point of the track ‘Cake and eat it’! I hated it. I can only think that it reflects something of an ongoing struggle in Gray’s mind, I guess only he knows.
Gray may feel this album marks a new direction and his moving on, for me it is more a case of the comfortably familiar with a new twist. Solid if unspectacular in places. Worth buying but unlikely to succeed ‘White Ladder’ on your iPod most played list