Sometimes you find an album that unexpectedly saves your soul. At a time when the news is oppressive and mostly bad, when panic attacks feel like they are constantly waiting, David Grey’s gentle voice and the soothing soundscape of Gold In A Brass Age are a cocoon, a safe space to breathe inside of.
Lead single, “The Sapling” is a meditative reflection on the passing of time, bolstered in the chorus with gospel voices to lift it out of the realm of too slow. The sound pallet for this album is immense and expansive, but never suffers from the aimless wandering that plagues many artists working in this same genre.
In a Cocteau Twins-esque turn, the synthetic bounce that underpins the title track steals the show, deceptively complex and crafted in such a way that it feels as though it’s bouncing back and forth between your ears. It’s so layered that it actually distracts from Gray’s singing, which, while pleasant, never quite finds the same hook.
The songs blend into each other gorgeously; this is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Sometimes they blend a little too well and get lost. A song like “It’s Late” is lovely when you go straight to it, but sandwiched between the hard-block patter of “Ridiculous Heart” and the ‘80s swoon of “A Tight Ship,” it’s easy to breeze through without really hearing.
Similarly, “Watching the Waves” is the album’s only real drag. It never quite picks up to anything. A lovely piece of poetry that lacks enough of a concrete melody to make it stand out. It’s a shame, because “I took that ghost for my bride” is a great lyric and deserves a whole song built around just that image.
Gray has always known how to write a unique love song, and “If 8 Were 9” is another gorgeous entry into his catalogue, full of longing and gossamer, soft-focus fantasy. It needs to be on the soundtrack of a romantic drama ASAP.
Gray has worried about our ever-shuffling world since he hit the scene with “Babylon,” and maybe it’s time we slow down and listen. Atmospheric and evocative, Gold In A Brass Age is as easy an entry point to Gray as it a continuation of an impressive career for already-established fan. It’s an album that demands a listen in full, rather than piecemeal or on shuffle, allowing the whole mood to permeate. It requires a reflective space and, frankly, deserves it.