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If I believed in God and was ever lucky enough to get to talk to him, I'm pretty sure he would sound something like this.
I'm a fairly picky person, especially with music and it bugs the hell out of me when new artists seemingly appear from nowhere and become instantly famous with no signs of real effort.
I was blown away when I first heard Ray, and after delving a little deeper, I was delighted to discover that he had indeed worked hard to get where he is and he couldn't deserve it anymore than he does.
Without the help of top-notch producers thrusting his music upon us, Ray taught himself to sing over a period of years before quiting his job at a shoe factory to become a musician. Thank heavens he did!
Gossip in the Grain is the third album, released in 2008 consisting of 10 works of art.
Most of Ray's songs are soft and mellow with country, blues and folk influences. Haunting melodies compliment his soulful, gravelly, but soft voice. When listening to Ray, there is a real sense of vunerability. His voice opens him up, allowing the listener in and enabling the listener to feel the emotions being portrayed through the tone of each word.
Most songs tell a story of lost loves, heartbreak, regret and hope.
The opening song of the album, "You are the best thing" is a lot more jolly and happy compared to many others with trumpets adding vibrancy and the lyrics a little less melancholly.
This gives way to softer, slower-paced songs, such as "Let it be me" and "I still care for you".
Added to my list of things to do before I die is to see Ray live. I can just imagine myself sat in a small, dimly-lit smokey bar with a handful of people being entertained by just Ray and his guitar. One can dream!
So, another amazing album by a real tallented man. With a head of hair that looks like it hasn't seen a pair of scissors for years and a beard that looks capable of housing more than a few moundly old cornflakes, he may not look the part but as they say, it's what's inside that counts, and what's inside Ray is a diamond of a voice and that's good enough for me.
And to Ray, if you ever read this... Come to the UK!!!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 You Are The Best Thing
2 Let It Be Me
4 I Still Care For You
5 Winter Birds
6 Meg White
7 Hey Me, Hey Mama
8 Henry Nearly Killed Me (It's A Shame)
9 A Falling Through
10 Gossip In The Grain