Following a digital-only release in February, Skellig – Gray’s twelfth studio album – gets its physical release on 14th May. Recorded pre-pandemic at Edwyn Collins’ Sunderland coast recording studio, the album was produced during lockdown by Gray and producer Ben de Vries.
The opening and title track – Skellig (name taken from Skellig Michael, an island off Ireland’s west coast which, whilst barren, was home to monks during the middle ages but is now better known for its use in the Star Wars sequels) – is a beautiful song containing vocals and harmonies. Followed up by Dún Laoghaire, with even more beautiful vocal arrangement, the flow of the tracks on this album works well.
The songs draw you in – the simple instrumentation, along with enviable vocals and a need to look up those lyrics you can’t quite grasp – making you want to stop what you’re doing and listen. The inclusion of six-part harmonies on many of the tracks adds depth without overly complicating things.
On the first few listens it is the earlier songs which grab your attention, but the more you listen the more you come to realise the second half is just as good as the first. Songs like Dares My Heart Be Free, Can’t Hurt More Than This and All We Asked For are worth spending your time on.
Whilst there are a few tracks which are typical David Gray, there are others which don’t sound as you would expect. So, even if you aren’t someone who would usually listen to one of his albums, it is worth checking this one out. It has a nice relaxed feel to it, a depth some albums are missing, and is a great accompaniment to a spring day.
Skellig is released via Laugh a Minute Records /AWAL Recordings on CD & vinyl formats on May 14, 2021.