I Should've Stopped There
I Should've Stopped There is the long-awaited second CD by the British artist, Kev Gray. This collection of early recordings stands in stark contrast to the ultra-polished studio work of Shipwrecked, and therein lies it's charm. While Shipwrecked portrays a more mature level of songwriting, this album brings us back to the early period in the songwriter's development. Ingenu in it's entirety, it captures the raw vocal talent of the artist on sumptuous tracks such as The Last Time and Mississippi. The sparse guitarwork and minimalist approach works magic on sonnets like Wild Wind, and Walter Mitty, the tale of a delusional double-crosser. Diversity is the key to this album, showing the artist love of music and his wide net of influences from bossa nova to jazz to folk and indie-pop. The sax, flute, classical guitar and dreamy female backing vocals create a misty effect, leaving listeners to question where the music is actually from. Unlike his later work, the lyrics take a back seat to the feel of the music, but there are some glimpses of poignant magic to come in ballads like Little Bruised Apples and Fighting The Tide. Several stories are based on true stories, people and events, and deal with everyday themes and foibles - love, risk, trust, betrayal. Other songs are celebrations of life, such as the opening track, Guatemala, written for a friend's wedding; or the anthem Jordan River, about redemption and renewal. The album also flows with humour, as seen on Let's Face It, I'm Great; the controversial crowd-pleaser, Bald Headed Blues; and the cult classic, Hemlock, Rope or Cyanide. If the main aim of the songwriter is send a message, this album is encoded with them. With two more albums slated for 2010, this is a gentle intro into the work of this very British yet ultimately universal songwriter. Nick Callaway June 2009.