Despite worldwide sales of 12 million albums and two consecutive Top 20 releases in the U.S., David Gray went for "a complete overhaul" on his upcoming seventh studio set, "Draw the Line."
"I knew I was gonna change things even as far back as making (2005's) 'Life in Slow Motion,' " the British singer-songwriter tells Billboard.com. "I could feel the creative spark was sort of diminishing between the people who were involved, and it was maybe going to be time to move on and try to do something different. So that's basically what I set about doing in a whole manner of different ways, just reconnecting with music and building a new band and a new sound."
The most painful part, Gray says, was jettisoning some of his regular cohorts -- particularly drummer Craig "Clune" McLune, who had been working with Gray since 1994's "Flesh." "He was obviously disappointed," Gray notes, "but at the same time he understood. It's not to be sniffed at, what we accomplished." But he feels the results on "Draw the Line," which comes out Sept. 29, speak for themselves. "There's a muscularity to this new sound that sort of unleashed a tide of imagery and a whole other perspective, a voice I sort of lost for awhile," Gray explains. "It just enabled me to sing in a wile different way. I felt 100 percent awake again, so present and in the moment and in the music. There's a directness and a joy to the sound that's just right."
Gray is releasing two versions of "Draw the Line:" the standard 11-track set that includes the first single, "Fugitive," and guest appearances by Annie Lennox ('Full Steam Ahead') and Jolie Holland ('Kathleen'); and a deluxe edition that comes with an eight-track live CD recorded at the Roundhouse Theatre in London. And, he says, there's plenty more where that came from.
"This is really just a small slither of it, this album," Gray reports. "We did 35, 40 songs; there was just something going on, I think, and I didn't want to stop it. These (songs) are what we picked to go out, sort of be the frontrunners to go out and punch the world in the face."
Gray kicks off his tour for "Draw the Line" on Sept. 14 back at the Roundhouse. He'll perform Sept. 25 on CBS' "The Late Show with David Letterman," then begin a U.S. tour on Oct. 23 in Boston.