Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
On his commercial breakthrough recording, "White Ladder," David Gray proved the value of harnessing songcraft to personal resilience. The Manchester, England-born singer/songwriter had spent 10 years recording -- first for Hut then EMI -- to little sales effect before striking pay dirt with album No. 4 on his own independent IHT Recods.
Since its release in 1998, "White Ladder" has shifted 2.5 million units in the U.K., according to his label, and 1.85 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The follow-up, "A New Day at Midnight" (IHT/East West), was release issued Monday (Oct. 28) internationally and is due Nov. 5 in the States via ATO/RCA.
After being dropped by EMI following the 1996 release of "Sell, Sell, Sell," Gray and his manager Rob Holden decided to focus their attentions on Ireland, where the singer was slowly acquiring cult status.
"We had sold a few thousand of my previous album there, so it was the obvious place to start with White Ladder," Gray says. "After the first platinum disc, which we got in Ireland, we had a huge party -- it was an exciting thing. But there was a weird moment when I realized because I was the record company, I had to buy it myself." He reports that sales of "White Ladder" in Ireland are currently at 350,000.
Of "A New Day at Midnight," the artist says, "I didn't set out to make any kind of record. There were a couple of songs that I wrote on the new record that were flagship moments. 'Freedom' was one. Once that was done, it had a certain weight and any stupid throwaway moment next to it was going to sound wrong. There's a seriousness to most of it, but it wasn't something that I sat down and thought about. It was never going to be 'White Ladder II.' I don't think it's as effortlessly immediate, but I don't think it's elusive; there's plenty of big melodies. 'White Ladder' was such a phenomenal success. It went beyond multi-platinum to 'everyone's got it.' And that's obviously a hard act to follow."
"He's got global potential," says Theo Gupta, Warner Music U.K.'s London-based senior international manager. "He's going to Australia, Southeast Asia, and Japan next year -- where he's never been -- even though he's got a gold record in Australia. Just in October, he's doing promo in the U.K., Germany, Italy, Spain, and France."
Gray will kick off a 22-date tour of the U.K. and Ireland Nov. 9 in Bournemouth, England. Featuring support from Turin Brakes and James Yorkson, the run will wrap with a three-night Dec. 7-9 stand at London's Earl's Court Arena.
According to his official album Web site, a 14-date North American tour will kick off Jan. 26 in Detroit, which his official artist Web site says will be followed a European tour commencing in March 2003.
Excerpted from the Nov. 2, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com members section.
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