Gavin DeGraw says the main creative goal for his new album, "Free," "was to really have a chance to make an indie record, really," even though the New York singer-songwriter remains in the major ranks, on J Records.
"Free," which comes out March 31 follows DeGraw's platinum 2003 debut "Chariot" and last year's self-titled sophomore album, is a markedly stripped-down affair he recorded during a two-week session in New York. He used a stellar band -- guitarist Audley Freed (Black Crowes, Dixie Chicks, Jakob Dylan), bassist Andy Hess (Black Crowes), keyboardist George Laks (Lenny Kravitz) and drummer Charley Drayton (Keith Richards) -- but kept the song arrangements spare, simple and rootsy compared to the more produced sounds of his first two releases.
"I just wanted to make a legitimate record, an artist's record for an artist's fans," DeGraw tells Bilboard.com. "I didn't want to saturate the tracks with overdubs and flying guitars and unicorns and shit. I wanted to keep everything out of the way and allow the songs to really be about what the songs are fundamentally, which is music and lyrics."
While making "Free" DeGraw reached back into his catalog to include early compositions such as "Dancing Shoes" and "Glass," which have not been released but have become fan favorites through his live shows. He also finished a couple of songs, "Mountains to Move" and "Stay," in the studio, covered the late Chris Whitley's "Indian Summer" as the album's opening track and recorded a new version of "Young Love" form the "Gavin DeGraw" album.
DeGraw is just hitting the road for a tour he's dubbed Where It Began, which will echo the musical flavor of "Free." He says he's looking forward to not just playing the new songs live but to reconstituting his older material in the "Free" fashion.
"I'm definitely doing that," DeGraw says. "I'm going to apply an in-between this record and that ('Gavin DeGraw') record and kind of reinvent some of those songs. If you picked up the (acoustic) 'Stripped' record that I did you'll hear kind of what I'll be doing with some of the (older) songs. ('Free') is one of those types of recordings I really think fundamentally suits my listeners and may suit a lot of music fans that may not have gotten into the first major releases I put out."