Review Summary: Free is a decent album from a good artist. Whilst it is unlikely to convert any new fans to the cause, this group of songs is likely to keep the DeGraw faithful happy and it does seem that he has found a sound which really suits him.
Less than a year after his last offering, Gavin DeGraw releases Free, the follow up to 2008's self-titled release. This album is a very different creature to DeGraw's eponymous album and most similar to 2004's Chariot: Stripped.
I am unsure how I feel about this one. It is, for the most part, void of the hooks and big choruses that have made Gavin DeGraw an international sensation in recent years, however the intimate and stripped down nature of this group of songs is somewhat warming, especialy when coming from a major label artist. You get the feeling that this album is honest and DeGraw often comes off vulnerable. In a good way, of course.
This is definitely something for relaxing to, and I have generally only really felt the urge to listen to Free late at night when I am unwinding and getting ready to go to bed.
Obvious single "Stay" is probably going to get heavy airplay from Adult Contemporary radio stations across the country, but it is "Lover Be Strong" which is the standout track in my mind. Accompanied by subtle drums, guitar and Gavin's average but aesthetically pleasing piano parts, Gavin's soulful vocals really make this song for me. I actually get the feeling that he believes what he is saying. Could this track be for that special someone to listen whilst he is on the road?
Another interesting listen is "Indian Summer," a track originally peformed by Manic Street Preachers. Here Gavin steps somewhat out of his comfort zone (I have not yet heard him perform a cover) but comes out on top. The cover is a respectable one, although maybe not quite as good as the original.
It's not that this is a bad album, but it is nothing which really screams out at me in the way his previous works did. DeGraw fans will just be happy to hear new music from him, while new DeGraw listeners should probably listen to one of his other releases if they are looking for something to get them into this artist.