David Gray – White Ladder (1998)
My blog is the David Gray of music blogs.*
Generally agreeable, unlikely to polarize or stir up any controversy.
That’s not meant as a desperate plea for encouragement (‘that’s not true, I love your work’) or an invitation for criticism (‘actually, your blog is just awful!’). I relish being middle of the road. So much so that I have recorded 10 original songs under the working album title, ‘Reasonably Inoffensive,’ so certainly no complaints!
Just as few White Ladder boycotts were organized, it’s hard to picture many teenage bedrooms being converted to David Gray shrines (à la One Direction).
His voice is like Bob Dylan’s, but nicer, perhaps closer to Jakob Dylan & the Wallflowers. The songs would blend seamlessly into a ‘continuous light hits’ playlist, without sounding like elevator muzak. Babylon remains a pleasant listen 15 years later. Otherwise, no major standouts one way or the other.
Pulp’s The Fear (also from ’98) features the great line, “you’re gonna like it, but not a lot.” Sounds about right as a White Ladder summary.
Post-script: Just read the Wikipedia page about White Ladder, I didn’t realize it was such a huge hit in the UK – so I was way off, apparently we don’t have so much in common!
I remember Babylon being a modest success in North America, around the same time as Duncan Sheik’s Barely Breathing and Edwin McCain’s I’ll Be. All three enhanced adult contemporary radio playlists at the time. While it was a beneficiary of some radio play in Canada, White Ladder remains the biggest selling album in Ireland, would not have guessed that!
My bad – it appears if he had that massive a following at the end of the 20th Century, perhaps he has faced some vociferous critics as well.
So I’ll add an asterisk to the my blog/David Gray metaphor to disclaim, ‘most definitely not the case with regard to our antonymous levels of commercial/critical success!’