Though much of the world is still discovering him, it's been more than two years since Welsh singer-songwriter David Gray released his platinum-selling White Ladder and much longer since he began writing and performing.
Those wondering what Gray was doing prior to Ladder will soon have their curiosity satisfied. Gray has re-recorded some of his early work and will release Lost Songs 95-98 on Tuesday (April 17) via Dave Matthews' ATO Records (see "David Gray's Lost Songs Found In U.S. Next Month").
"I had a lot of sparse, kind of melancholy stuff hanging around from before the White Ladder period, and I didn't want it to go to waste or just be this messy collection of home recordings and demos," Gray said of the album, which was recorded during a single week in 1999. "I've gone to great pains to make it clear it's in no way a follow-up to White Ladder. It's a record I perhaps should have made earlier in my career, just me and the acoustic guitar."
Lost Songs, nominated for Best British Album at February's Brit Awards (it lost to Coldplay's Parachutes), is Gray's way of thanking his fans. "It's a nice stocking filler for fans who've been on board for the long haul," Gray said. "It'll keep 'em going through the long winter months until our next real record."
Gray said he looks forward to entering the studio again, but that it could be a while until he does. "I've got some studio time penciled in sometime in 2004," he joked. "We did some demos before we set off on tour and were so excited about them we cobbled together live arrangements to give the songs a bit of an airing on the road."
The new material should freshen a set that's seen its fair share of audiences over the past couple of years. "It helps that thousands millions, in fact have become attached to the record and turn up to give it everything," Gray said of his busy touring schedule. "At times it has been a real performance, in the true sense of the word, because we've played the record so many times. But when you get a new crowd and a new city, you want to really give it to them."
Gray recently embarked on a 33-date sweep of the States, with shows in Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Chicago this week (see "David Gray Launching North American Tour In April").
White Ladder is at #84 on the Billboard 200 albums chart after rising as high as #34.