I’m a tad ashamed to admit that I’m a total indie kid when it comes to Gavin DeGraw – I loved him when his debut album came out and his only claim to fame was having the theme song to One Tree Hill – back then he had all the style, passion and charm that the 2004–2005 music industry lacked. And when his second album came out and he was fully recognized in the mainstream, I jumped ship, claiming he’d lost all his artistic vibe and had tried to mix too many genres in one album.

So it pleases me that he’s come back in full force with his third record, Free. Well, not quite full force – there are only nine tracks, but he’s taken all the peripheral noise out of his music and fine-tuned it to these heartfelt, eloquent tunes.

Only a couple of the songs, like the opener, “Indian Summer,” and “Lover Be Strong” have rock elements in them, in which DeGraw’s voice molds seamlessly with the guitars and carries the music to great heights.

The rest of the songs are slower, ballad-tinged tunes, mostly with soft piano accompaniment. Although this, luckily, doesn’t make the album boring and drag on, it just makes it a pleasant collection of soulful music.

The title track, “Free,” is DeGraw’s signature sound, with lilting lyrics about breaking out from a mundane routine in life and living “with the wind in your hair.” Other tracks that’ll get your spirit soaring are “Stay and “Dancing Shoes,” while “Waterfall” and the slow, still song, “Why Do Men Stray” that end the album, give it a well-rounded feel.

So if, like me, you lost faith in DeGraw with his last album, you can rest assured that this one is way better. And if you haven’t heard any of his music yet, Free is a pretty good place to start, so get it now.


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