David Gray’s new single, Snow in Vegas, feels like it was designed by committee. It’s not terrible; it’s not even bad. It just ticks the boxes in a way that feels slightly lifeless. Sentimental lyrical content? Tick. Polished, technically impressive, but ultimately emotionally absent vocals? Tick. An established pop-country star guesting? Tick. Echoey background vocals? Tick. An acoustic rock feel that has been nailed by so many pop-folk artists in the past that frequent radio listeners will get an intense feeling of déjà vu only ten seconds into the song’s three minute plus running time? Tick.
The established pop-country star in question is LeAnn Rimes, and although her vocal delivery is pleasant, she tries far too hard, her voice scaling up and down in pitch like a particularly overzealous contestant on a reality TV singing contest.
The song will certainly please Gray’s fan base: there’s nothing in the song that he hasn’t been doing for years now. But that’s part of the problem: perhaps Gray has just become too comfortable after almost 22 years in the music industry. He knows what works, and he goes for it. I suppose I can see the sense in that: why put your fan’s adulation in jeopardy when you could just keep serving up what you’ve been giving people for over two decades? After all, aside from alienating the grumpy folks (like me) who don’t listen to your music anyway, why not do what you’ve done for years?