Review: New Sounds by Marc Davison, Edmonton
David Bray’s Night Rains sways between classic rock and soul—an album that seems to be born out of conversations in a smoky bar over a night of beers.
As the first release in a trilogy of albums exploring urban isolation, Night Rains sets a distinct tone that is likely to continue throughout the upcoming releases. It’s a tone that is both hopeful and reflective as Bray explores the urban life from a variety of perspectives.
The band that Bray has gathered for this album, and hopefully the rest of the trilogy, is a joy to listen to. With a rhythm section featuring the late Bob Babbitt on bass—a member of the legendary Motown Funk Brothers—and vocals from musical partner, Lorraine Reid. Also featured are Garth Hudson of The Band and Kim Mitchell—it isn’t a surprise that this album feels and sounds very Canadian.
Lyrically, Bray explores everything from being an aging political activist (“Renegade”), to the universal feeling of loneliness (“Who Do You Turn To?”) and “Road Rage”—a straight up country barn burner and one of the album’s stand-out tracks.
In a day and age when most people consume their music by the song, rather than as an album, Bray has produced a record that is thematic and coherent as a whole without being heavy-handed.
That isn’t to say there aren’t a couple of hiccups along the way. Bray breaks out a couple of funky slow jams that just miss the mark. “This Bar Inherits the Meek” reminds me of R. Kelly, and is juxtaposed with lyrics about jukeboxes and bartenders that feels out of place.
“Go Out Dancing” is a post-breakup song in which our protagonist goes out dancing while reflecting on the fallout from a relationship, rather than his former partner. Like “This Bar Inherits the Meek,” it doesn’t quite fit.
With a superb band backing him, Bray’s Night Rains is an album that sounds both timeless and Canadian. A solid album that explores a variety of musical styles and is perfect for a rainy night in or playing on the jukebox at your local bar.
“Brilliant track! The mixture of genres has hit me right between the eyes with a total wall of sound! … This number is just superb!”The Count, Way Out Radio
“’Working’ is working for sure.”Jon Wesley of KNSJ 89.1 FM, San Diego, CA
“I think they deserve five stars just for getting gesticulating in a lyric.”Radio Wey: Surrey UK
“Lush, classy.” Radioactive 88.6 FM in Wellington, New Zealand
“One more great artist for my blues program: nothing but the blues.”Jean-Jacques Janot, 3J Vision
“Sounds great. With a cast like that behind him how could it not be.”James Doran, CIDG-FM - Rebel 101.7 FM Ottawa, ON
“Full, crisp sound. Nicely layered. Looking forward to some live shows.”Scott Wilkinson, CHRW 94.9 FM - London, ON, Canada / 'The Blues Never Die'
“Love It Love It Love It!”Bryant S LittleJohn, KISS108FM / JOY94.4FM / KIK94.5 & 88FM
“A good shot of Blues & R&B.”Francis Rateau, Blues Cafe Radio - Syndicated Program France / Jazz Radio Blues, Radio Grésivaudan, C'Rock Radio, Radio Zig Zag,Radio Royans
“Nice one… 5 stars”Syndicated on 40 stations, BRNO, Czech Republic
“Love the ‘Wall of Sound’. Big sound and great vocals!!”WRTC-FM, Hartford Connecticut
“One of the most energetic …five stars.”ACIK Raydio, Turkey
“Dope!”CKDU 88.1: Halifax, Nova Scotia
“Nice tune!”Sven Thomschke / Dr. Best at Radio Z 95.8 FM, Nuremberg, Germany