Lyrical content is in a more rural setting than the urban feel of White Ladder. Gone...
Niky Daley 2002
The follow-up to a successful album like White Ladder is never easy, and it is not much of a surprise that A New Day At Midnight does not surpass its predecessor.
Written and produced by Gray, there is still overuse of the drum machine which may have been justified on his former low budget, but not so now. Instrumentation is pretty sparse throughout although this is almost redeemed by the use of the legendary B.J. Cole on pedal steel guitar on one track - although the rest of 'Caroline' is rather synthetic.
A lot of lyrics are swallowed up by Gray's languorous voice but the ones that get through can be decidedly poetic and create strong images.One example is 'Last Boat To America' which contains lines like "sing me the truth sweet bird of youth" and talks of "the stillness of a pure blue sky".
There is no major departure from previous lyrical content which is mainly centred around relationships ,but is ina more rural setting than the urbanfeel of White Ladder. Gone is the midnight street, replaced with, amongst others, references to saddling-up and boats.
The aquatic theme is continued on the album cover and is a general metaphor for the melodiousness of the music which washes in and out but doesnt leave any lasting impact.
His laid-back voice fits well with this often taking on a soporific tone rather like a lullaby. One such track is 'Freedom' which is replete with dreamy chords, and Gray also gets to display some dynamic range.
It's hard to guess what David Gray might have in his record collection as he leaves no musical clues in his own music. However, compared to recent work, the music does generally take on a more country feel with the use of steel guitars, although 'Last Boat To America' has a distinctly oriental start and 'Freedom' has a quasi-Polynesian sounding break in the middle.
Gray appears to knows his market well and caters for it with A New Day At Midnight which will not alienate his former fan-base but is unlikely to enlargen it. But given the circumstance of his huge fan base,perhaps that doesn't matter.