Gavin DeGraw

J Records, 2003

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


As we have moved further and further into the 00s, digital/online music has launched a full-fledged assault on standard radio. This humble reviewer barely turns on the radio anymore, preferring to just plug in the iPod and listen to what I want played.

The means of spreading one’s music have become much more diversified; one does not necessarily gain notoriety by having LA KISS constantly playing a hit song. Instead, a song is spread across the Internet by word of mouth, or used in a commercial or as the intro to a television show.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

DeGraw’s album, Chariot, came out in 2003 but has remained in the forefront of people’s mind due to his song “I Don’t Want To Be” being used as the theme song for One Tree Hill on the former WB network. He has a new album coming out later this year, due in no small part I would wager to his sustained popularity. His performance on Chariot merits some anticipation for the release – not a tremendous amount, but there is potential lurking.

An inevitable part of “making it” in the music business is that the raw energy and passion put into the early hardships of a career don’t translate well in the studio. Gavin DeGraw has talent, but that talent is buried underneath a poppy sheen that undermines his potentially strong material.

The best material occurs early on when the melodies overcomes the aforementioned deficiencies. “Follow Through” sounds too much like a Goo Goo Dolls track, but “Chariot” and “Just Friends” are solid, piano-driven rock songs. The latter is a picture-perfect example of a modern power ballad, showcasing an intuitive knowledge of what makes pop “pop.”

“I Don’t Want To Be,” the big smash single, does feature a catchy refrain and a fairly meaty opening riff, but nevertheless, it lacks that oomph. “Chemical Party” plays out much in the same manner, trying to make DeGraw sound like Weezer, but to be honest, that’s not his sound. The majority of the album attempts to clarify just what kind of artists he is, but in the end nothing solid is unearthed.

The copy of the album that I purchased was released in 2004 and contains a second disc that is essentially Chariot but stripped down to the basics. Not surprisingly, this is where these songs really come alive and sound much more genuine and cutting. This is the route DeGraw needs to take, especially if he wants to be a cut above your run of the mill pop star.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2008 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of J Records, and is used for informational purposes only.