With ten studio albums to his name, David Gray has an immense amount of songs in his discography. As such, it’s probably no surprise that he’s got another compilation album coming out; with his previous one Greatest Hits having come out almost ten years ago, it’s the perfect time for The Best of David Gray to come out. Covering the material from 2005’s Life in Slow Motion and beyond, it’s an exhaustive yet unfortunately difficult to enjoy snapshot of his career since his last compilation.
With thirty one tracks featuring in the compilation, there’s a decent collection of songs of a few key styles to be found here. There’s an ample selection of minimal ballads to be found, especially at the tail end of the album where most of them are placed, while the folksy songs take their position at the head of the album. Given his consistent style, new listeners would be hard pressed to pinpoint which album each song came from, but individual tracks do tend to stand out occasionally—The lone folktronica track Please Forgive Me being the main point here.
The two new songs on the compilation are solid, though tend to blend with the rest of the material. Smoke Without Fire is extremely low-key, with an extremely minimal piano and percussion arrangement for most of its run time, and Enter Lightly is a nice soft rock track, not really a ballad but not lending itself to the term mid-tempo either. However, they struggle to stand out in the midst of such a large collection of songs, and its sheer size ends up being its biggest downfall. Most of the songs aren’t exactly strong enough to warrant a position here, and it begins to drag especially as it reaches the final ten tracks.
So while The Best of David Gray is a hefty collection, it bows under the immense number of songs on show here. It lends itself best to picking and choosing, rather than a dedicated listen, and ends up feeling rather monotonous, given that it doesn’t cover much ground outside of a few different styles. It’s a thoroughly packed showcase of David Gray’s modern music, but not exactly a strong collection in any other way.