It’s been four years since eccentric folky Ed Gray released his fabulous The Late Gray Ed Great–which was one of my favorite LP’s of the last decade. While it’s easy to get impatient and hope for another slab of equal brilliance, that sort of quality is difficult to replicate, and takes plenty of time if you want to get even close.
Gray is finally making new material available: there’s a quintet of new tunes on his Myspace page. The new jams are as lo-fi as ever, in fact the production for “Sallow” seems especially spotty and rough, but he’s expanding his bedroom aesthetic a bit. Gray’s always been able to pluck heart strings with lilting, eerily frayed acoustic ballads, and “Haunted Shoes,” from this latest batch, is yet another in this mold. It was the real standout for me on the first trip through the new cuts, a real gripping tune. But Gray also gets down with some electric guitar pulses, tapping into a Tom Waitsian level of creepiness with “Sampson.” It’s claustrophobic plod is a wonderful space for Gray’s gruff baritone to explore.
You’d be doing yourself a service to find 15 and a half minutes for his online “ep.” Hop on over to Gray’s Myspace page (while Myspace still exists), and check out this bounty of new material from one of Iowa City’s most unsung songwriting greats.