Gray Days

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It’s been cold and rainy the last few days, and more than once I’ve found myself repeating some subtle and surprising line, half a refrain or part of a verse from a David Gray song in my head. There’s something easy and sometimes melancholy about his music that makes it perfect listening for this kind of weather. That, and he’s been on my mind since earlier this month when I watched him tape two short but stunning sets and an interview for KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic in producer Bob Clearmountain’s Santa Monica studio.

Dressed in a grey three-piece suite, the English singer-songwriter performed “Only the Wine,” “Flame Turns Blue,” and “Sea” on the acoustic guitar with his look-a-like band, then moved behind the piano for tender renditions of “Jackdaw,” “Holding On,” and “Kathleen.” But it was a solo rendition of “When I Was in Your Heart” that fully hushed the crowd of music execs, KCRW supporters, and members of the press more prone to fidgeting through shows.

Between sets, Gray brightened up while talking with Jason Bentley about his family (“They are mental. That’s English for very well.”); “Foundling,” Gray’s ninth and latest studio album, recorded alongside 2009’s “Draw the Line” and released during his summer tour with Ray LaMontagne; and his hope to get back on the road with a small-venue show in February.

“I’m not much in the songwriting mood at the moment,” he said. “It comes down to wanting it.”  Gray was being characteristically sincere, but it’s news I’m not taking to heart. Moods are funny. Some change with the weather.

David Gray Live will air on Morning Becomes Eclectic tomorrow.

Photograph by Larry Hirshowitz