Sometimes you need a timeout. David Gray's timeout lasted four years.
The Grammy-nominated troubadour took a break from the music industry, but came back more energized than ever. Last year, he released the album Draw the Line, and this month, he's back with another album, Foundling, which was released Tuesday.
Gray said he got a creative spurt during his time away from the spotlight.
"I didn't have a record contract," he said in a recent interview. "I had no one telling me to stop, so once the music began to flow. … I felt like it gave me a completely new lease of life. I got into a very creative mode. I was writing a lot of new songs."
The British performer talked about his new album, and his new outlook.
How would you describe this album?
It's a listening record. If you're really into lyrics and songwriting, and dwelling on the essence of the song, then this is going to be a record that's powerful for you, as a listener. … There's no big song. There's nothing that's trying to attract your attention. It's not dressed up for the shop window. It's very much a record I made with my deepest instincts.
Why did you release this album less than a year after Draw the Line?
At a certain point I looked at all this sort of sprawling massive material and decided there was two separate projects. … Suddenly it looks like I'm just knocking records out as if it's easy, but they were both recorded and conceived within the same time frame.
You are known for being introspective, but this album turns the lens outward. Why is that?
The angles that I was pursuing with my writing changed on Draw the Line in particular. It just released me from whatever I'd been thinking and feeling before. The sound of the new band had a different, slightly, almost tougher presence to it. It allowed me, enabled me, to write a different kind of song, something I've been bursting to write — so more panoramic, politicized, an uncomfortable word, but more political kind of rant kind of songs. Suddenly the camera was just pointing everywhere and to everything.
You say you don't read critics. Has there ever been a time when you did and you wish you hadn't?
I try not to even go there. It's weird. You need a thick skin and yet, being what you are requires a thin skin, in order to write and react to things. … The thing that most disappoints me is not necessarily if someone doesn't really like my stuff. If they actually put together a firm argument as to why, I'd be impressed.