Gavin Degraw BY COLLEEN CRACCHIOL A
ome may recall, or identify most with singer/songwriter Gavin Degraw by his hit ‘I Don’t Want To Be’ off his debut album, Chariot; made popular by the WB’s iconic drama One Tree Hill. In the decade since then, Degraw has built a moderately sized, but passionately devoted following. Some of his other hits in addition to the chart-topper, ‘I Don’t Want To Be,’ include, but are not limited to: ‘Chariot,’ ‘Soldier,’ and ‘Not Over You.’ The New York native has been playing the piano since he was 8, and has continuously been writing music since he was small. Yet, inarguably, over the years it has been the songs that feature a heavy emphasis on his ardently crafted piano tunes that earned him the most rewarding responses. His release of Chariot + Chariot Stripped in 2004 solidifies the fact that it is his original piano pieces that distinguish him from the rest. His songs lacking a strong influence from other instruments like the guitar, bass, and drums, allow for his distinctively raw and soothing voice to take the spotlight. It is these acoustic based tracks where he sounds most at home. His fifth and most recent album, Make A Move, came out in Fall of 2013. Though his signature voice still prevails, it has to be said that this most recent album has the overriding qualities of a loveable mutt. In other words, many musical influences are clearly present here. The album’s single, ‘Best I Ever Had,’ bears a heady resemblance to Train’s ‘Drive By’ (to be specific). Though catchy, in the poppy way that radio singles aim to be, I would not have chosen it to be the album’s leading general. Take the album’s namesake, ‘Make A Move’ for example, the song seems to make a move towards Maroon Five’s traditional sound, rather than Degraw’s. Of course, as is the case with most mutts, there are some notable qualities that are unique to Gavin Degraw’s special breed. I believe
loyal fans would agree that the tracks, ‘Who’s Gonna Save Us’ and ‘Heartbreak’ remain true to his soul, while still dabbling in different genres. The bluesy rock ballad, ‘Who’s Gonna Save Us’ brings us fresh and enticing lyrics, deliciously sung by Degraw. Musically, it is somewhat reminiscent of his 2011 album, Sweeter’s hit, ‘Soldier.’ Except in this case he’s searching for the savior instead of promising to be one. Regardless, every album needs a ‘Soldier’ to rely on and ‘Who’s Gonna Save Us’ could certainly constitute for this album. While the track ‘Heartbreak’ on the other hand, incorporates a fast semi-poppy tempo with a little edgy rock peeking through. The chorus of this song makes a social commentary not unlike some of his other work: “Heartbreak isn’t what it used to be/ Now it’s a bedtime story, not a tragedy/ I got a silver lining on a cloud like that/ You let it rain so it won’t come back.” Definitely some refreshing, thought-provoking lyrics that give you pause. Overall, Make A Move leaves some fans slightly frazzled with growing misgivings. Although still enjoyable, with some noteworthy new tracks, we are not completely satiated. A few years back US Weekly issued an article titled, “25 things you don’t know about Gavin Degraw”, Amidst these 24 fun-facts about Degraw, number 23 stands out in stark contrast: “23. I used to play the piano so hard my fingertips would bleed”. Believe it or not Gavin, we have been hearing that emotion in your music for the past decade, it’s what makes you fantastic. So now don’t misunderstand, we don’t actually enjoy the idea of you being in any physical pain, but we must ask what condition are your fingertips in after playing music from this album?