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David Grey

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David Grey

When most people think of English music, the Beatles obviously come to mind, along with the punk of the Sex Pistols, the glam rock of David Bowie, and maybe the soft pop of Elton John. Few would immediately think of David Gray and his acoustic guitar, but he's on a mission to change all that. Born in Manchester in 1968, Gray grew up in Wales before attending the University of Liverpool. While in school, he dabbled in a few punk bands, and then began exploring new styles of writing, eventually uncovering his own poetic penmanship. Following a move to London, Gray signed to Hut Records in the United Kingdom and Caroline Records in the United States, releasing the single Birds Without Wings in 1992.

The next year saw his debut album, A Century Ends. Through his emotional tales of anger and passion, love, and solitude, Gray's trademark style of fiery intensity countered with tender poignancy started to find an audience. However, despite solo touring and an opening slot for Shawn Colvin, the wonderfully raw and powerful Flesh was released in 1994 to an underwhelming response. Although he was dropped from his label, EMI Records saw his potential and talent and quickly signed him to a new deal. Meanwhile, a quiet buzz was building in Ireland thanks to support from No Disco, an alternative music video program that showcased Gray every chance it got. Hanging on to that thread, Sell, Sell, Sell came out in 1996 in limited release. Gray hitched up his touring boots and hit the road again, this time opening for such heavy hitters as Radiohead and Dave Matthews Band.

That still didn't do the trick, and he again parted ways with his major label. Recapturing and embracing his independence, Gray self-financed his fourth album, White Ladder, and released it on his own IHT Records in 1998. Recorded in a London apartment with an easy blend of samplers and acoustic guitar, White Ladder is a sublime leap forward for the artist. Ireland certainly recognized its brilliance, as the record immediately went into the Irish Top 30. Gray found other outlets, as well, offering five tunes to the soundtrack of This Year's Love.

To further move things along, former road pal Dave Matthews, who had taken a liking to Gray, made White Ladder the debut release on his own ATO Records imprint in 2000. Celebrating his mounting success with his fourth multi-platinum album, The EPs 92-94 album followed in July 2001 and coincided with reissues of A Century Ends and Flesh. Gray became a moderate success in the States, and A New Day at Midnight followed up his successful international breakthough in the fall of 2002. Gray worked with Björk and Rufus Wainwright producer Marius De Vries for 2005's Life in Slow Motion.


 

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