Few seem to truly desire honesty when it comes to sharing the insecurities, weaknesses, and brokenness we all share from time to time. Minnesota native Jason Gray (formerly known as Jason Gay) is no stranger to sharing his heart. In fact, he proudly wears it on his sleeve with his Centricity Records label debut All The Lovely Losers, the follow up to his attention-nabbing 2005 indie release The Better Part Of Me. Joining the rootsy and straightforward honesty - not to mention his love for the Lord - that greats like Rich Mullins displayed, with harmonies and melodies reminiscent of the wonderful PFR, Gray is poised to make an impact on the church with his first national release.
Opening the record is "Blessed Me," a folk-rock song that sets the tone for the dozen-track album and bears its quirky title within the song's lyrics. It's hard not to look at an album title like All The Lovely Losers and not think of Steve Taylor's song "Jesus Is For Losers," which was written to express mankind's desperation for a Savior. Gray has a pretty solid grasp on this concept and uses it as a basis for his album's themes - something that aids in the record standing apart from the world's sea of sameness. Already with the second track, "Sing Through Me," there's a darker tone with a soaring chorus that arises from brokenness to lift praises to the Creator. The bridge prayerfully says, "Be the strength inside my weakness / Be the song when I am speechless." "This Far," "Move," and "The Cut" have a Bebo Norman feel vocally and thematically, especially when Norman's music focused on such honest frailties and loneliness. Gray's sincerity in songwriting is what his greatest strength is, giving greater depth to some songs that might not otherwise have it.
Musically, Gray's strongest points are when the music is mellow and he can emote vocally. "I'm Not Going Down" is a noble attempt at a more rock-influenced sound, but it iesn't as fitting for the folk singer. When the more pop-based "Into The Mystery" and the more acoustic "Someday" follow, it's only confirmed that Jason's voice is best suited for the intimate and melodic.
Jason Gray's Centricity debut All The Lovely Losers is a wonderful introduction to a seasoned independent artist who we'll hopefully be hearing more of in the coming years. Jason Gray's honest, sincere, and real approach to songwriting is the kind of writing that the Christian pop and worship genres have been needing to hear more from.- Review date: 3/4/07, written by John DiBiase of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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