On Sell, Sell, Sell, David Gray plugs in and cranks it up a notch higher than on his previous release, Flesh. Where once there were sparse arrangements of acoustic guitar and piano, now there are live jangling electrics and drums.
Gray’s voice, however, is just as raw and piercing as ever, in a good way. No matter the instrumentation, his vocal performances always best convey the message, whether urgent or tender. He does have a few quiet moments sprinkled throughout Sell, Sell, Sell, but the larger scheme is loud, driving, and powerful. “Hold on to Nothing,” “Smile,” and “Gutters Full of Rain” are songs that bear the torch of longing that filled so much of Flesh.
Naked Gray, coffeehouse Gray — that’s what they seem to recall, and quite well. That’s not to say that the rocking stuff is no good. It’s good. It’s smart, melodic folk-rock done up with emotion and talent. As a writer, Gray’s vision has expanded to include more social observations along with his personal tribulations. The loss of faith and innocence and the coldness of winter and greed are both reoccurring themes throughout the album.
Even the titles suggest the importance of what lies within the melodic lines — “Faster, Sooner, Now,” “Sell, Sell, Sell,” “Everytime,” “Forever Is Tomorrow Is Today.” The pace and tone are set from the word go, or “hey” as the case may be. All in all, this is a fine next step in the evolution of a wonderfully talented young artist.