Gavin DeGraw is a talent, who in just a few short years has become one of today’s premier singer-songwriters. He’s done it the old-fashioned way. On the merits of his creative abilities, perseverance and a healthy, homegrown perspective, he has established himself as a magnetic voice in popular music.
The “big machine” of hard work and eventual success began cranking up for DeGraw after he recorded and pressed his own live CD that sold out at every one of his shows. Shortly thereafter in 2003, DeGraw released Chariot — an introduction to this charismatic, vibrant young artist who connected with audiences in a way other contemporary musicians did not. Selling more than a million copies, the album was certified platinum and yielded three gold singles: “I Don’t Want To Be,” which soared to No. 1 on the Top 40 radio chart, “Follow Through,” and the title-track, “Chariot.”
Thanks to tireless touring, as well as performances on The Late Show With David Letterman, The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and other programs, audiences around the country fell for DeGraw’s prodigious songwriting, singing talent and affable personality. In 2004, at the request of his fans, DeGraw recorded an acoustic version of Chariot, entitled Chariot Stripped, which endeared him even more to his devoted listeners.
In May 2008, DeGraw released his second studio album, Gavin DeGraw, a series of impassioned, emotionally resonant songs about the joys and rigors of love and life. He made the bold creative choice to give the album a decidedly more rock-oriented sound. DeGraw wrote and helped to arrange all the songs, and played guitar and piano throughout.
DeGraw added a new chapter to his celebrated narrative with the release of 2009’s Free — a raw, organic-sounding collection of songs that showcases Gavin’s earthy charm and ever-evolving songwriting talent. Free combines new songs that were completed in the studio, like “Stay” and “Mountains to Move,” to tunes that DeGraw wrote very early in his career that have evolved with him, like “Dancing Shoes” and “Glass.”
2011’s Sweeter debuted at No. 1 on the digital sales chart and spawned the hit singles “In Love With A Girl,” which Billboard dubbed “a rocking homerun” and the gold-certified “We Belong Together.” The double-platinum success of his single “Not Over You” helped propel Sweeter (which Rolling Stone’s review called “taut, efficient and hook-packed”) to his second Top 10 album.
Gavin DeGraw’s powerful next album, Make A Move, was a victorious and creative musical return. Gavin DeGraw has experienced a creative and commercial renaissance displaying his even more focused vocal and artistic talent, his assured energy, musically expanded palette, and sharp, detail-driven lyrics.
The first single, “Best I Ever Had,” the most up-tempo thing DeGraw has done yet, charges out of the gate with a galloping rhythm and lively horns. “I feel like this album is the strongest record I’ve made,” DeGraw says. “It’s a clear evolution from what I’ve been doing. I’ve taken more risks, like learning the value of having space in the writing. Silence is louder than the highest note.”
The songs brim with confidence. “Best I Ever Had,” is part pointed social commentary on the information age and part love song. Along similar lines is “Finest Hour,” which is critical of the diminishing safe space for people to cut loose in the era of social media. On the other end of the spectrum is the raw, emotional ballad “Who's Gonna Save Us,” one of his favorite tracks on the album.
Make A Move was also influenced by DeGraw spending much of his time in Nashville and Los Angeles while writing — away from former home base NYC — as well as by his participation in Dancing With The Stars in 2012.
His appearances not only revealed some of his personal backstory, but also got him more comfortable with being more physical while performing. “A lot of artists have had movement or dance training and I have never done anything like that,” DeGraw says. “I think I had been at a disadvantage. Even just a few weeks of training helped my moves onstage. It definitely made me more comfortable standing and singing instead of sitting at piano.”
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