Tag Archives: Best I Ever Had

ALBUM REVIEW: Gavin DeGraw – Make A Move

Bust a Move.

Bust a Move.

When singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw released his first album, Chariot, ten years ago, he came on the scene with a fresh sound in the midst of a transitional era in mainstream radio largely filled with hip-hop and rap music. Though initially a failure, J Records found success through placement of his song “I Don’t Want To Be” as the theme on the teen drama One Tree Hill, and with a growing younger audience, his single was given a second chance and run up the pop chart until it hit #1 on CHR radio in January 2005. Since then, the now 36-year-old performer has had his share of significant airplay hits and two top ten albums. Now comes his fifth studio album, Make A Move, released through RCA on October 15, a mixed bag of more polished pop tunes and the occasional gritty rocker to appease a much older crowd. It’s a move that may irk some of his audience and make them question where the real DeGraw actually is.

Of the few highlights on this just under 39-minute, 11-track affair is “I’m Gonna Try”, a bluesy ballad where DeGraw proclaims that he’s “gonna try, try ’til I get it back” ’til he finds his love again. There’s a certain vulnerability on this track which makes it stand out, and genre-wise, it’s very different from the overall sound of the album. So, who cares if there are “neighbors callin’ out names” and other trials and tribulations in love? DeGraw’s got stamina, at least for the moment. Also working well is the soft rock ballad “Everything Will Change”. It’s something about the line “It’s time to separate the men from the boys/And the women from the girls/And the tools from the toys” that recalls his earlier songwriting, particularly on his self-titled 2008 album. You can also tell that his summer tour mates The Script may have influenced this one, especially on the “You can talk the talk, talk/You can walk the walk, walk” phrasing in the post-chorus. You’ll find that sounding like other acts is going to be a common theme on this album, but I’ll dig into that a little later.

Probably the best of the best is the eighth track, “Heartbreak”, a playful mid-tempo record that sounds like the guy’s having a little fun. He sings, “Heartbreak isn’t what it used to be/now it’s a bedtime story, not a tragedy.” He is so spot on this album when he’s actually on. This one has one of the strongest sets of lyrics on Make A Move. It’s a very poppy record, with hand claps and “ooh-ooh-ooh” runs and the like, but this seems like more a natural commercial progression rather than some of the more forced songs at the beginning. I would love to see this as a radio single. Similarily, other solid pop/rock numbers on here include “Different For Girls”, “Who’s Gonna Save Us”, and the Ryan Tedder co-write “Finest Hour”, which has a quirky set of lyrics about the aftermath of a swinging party but suffers from Tedder’s unoriginal production style.

As much as I like the majority of the songs on here, there’s a big elephant in the room when it comes to this album, and that is just how faceless a lot of these songs really are. There’s at least two Maroon 5 rejects on here, the title track (which was co-written Ammar Malik and Benny Blanco, both have previously worked with the band) and “Need”, which is basically a sonic twin to their hit of last year, “Payphone”. You then have the album’s opener, “Best I Ever Had”, which is clearly influenced by Train both lyrically and musically. The song, probably much to RCA’s disappoint, burned very quickly at radio due to the musical similarities and likely indirectly to a co-writing credit by Martin Johnson, who has been all over the place on leadoff singles by Avril Lavigne, Daughtry, Jason Derulo and Karmin. I’ve mentioned several other instances above, but the point is, the guy doesn’t sound like himself overall. It’s just not him. Whether he’s consciously adapting styles or whether the label is forcing him to work with more co-writers for a quick sale (I’m leaning towards the latter), it’s not very memorable. It’s good, but it doesn’t stick. There are some outstanding songs on here, but I’m not sure it’s enough to save the whole experience for me.

If you worship the ground that DeGraw walks upon, or maybe just really enjoy hearing his voice after all these years, then I think you’ll still enjoy this album. If you’re a fan of his older material, than you may be disappointed in this album as well. I imagine you also felt the same sentiment hearing “Not Over You” for the first time. That was a drastic change and this is yet another one. Look, I know that he can’t please everyone, but I still want to root for Degraw; he’s a great live performer (I’ve seen him once) and maybe some of these songs will translate better in front of an audience rather than falling flat in the studio. Knowing the situation, look for “Finest Hour” or “Make A Move” to be the second single before this era wraps up early next year. I would’ve suggested “Heartbreak”… or that DeGraw make a move to another label.

Listen to Make A Move on VH1’s First Listen. / Pre-order Make A Move on iTunes.

14 Comments

Filed under Album Reviews

SINGLE PREMIERE: Gavin DeGraw – “Best I Ever Had” (+ Lyrics)

Could it be his biggest hit "Ever"?

Could it be his biggest hit “Ever”?

It was back in September 2011 that Gavin DeGraw put out his last album to date, Sweeter. The leadoff single from that effort, “Not Over You”, was a major change in style for DeGraw, who went from a more organic pop/rock sound to the heavy drums and repetitive keyboard of Ryan Tedder‘s production style. It worked, becoming his biggest national hit since “I Don’t Want To Be” back in early 2005. Two other songs, the title track and “Soldier”, both charted at Hot Adult Contemporary radio. Now, DeGraw is changing it up once again both mixing a few different sounds on his latest, “Best I Ever Had”, from an album yet to be titled.

First of all, it’s not a hot Drake or Vertical Horizon remake. Let’s just get that straight. “Best” is going to sound real familiar to you just a few notes in. It has the quick-paced, pop culture laden lyrics and vocal style of Pat Monahan from Train. I mean, “Helter Skelter” and hipsters? Only in a Train song… or one that’s imitating one. Plus, there’s a hint of Paul Simon especially in the bridge. My first impression from hearing it was a little bit of “You Can Call Me All”, although it could be something else in his catalogue. There’s a certain vibe that it gives off that classic Simon sound. You’ll also hear a slightly more folk-driven background instrumental, which sounds like a peppier version of “I Will Wait” by Mumford & Sons. Everybody’s doing it in their music regardless of whether they’re a folk or bluegrass act; why not buck a trend?

It’s easy to compare DeGraw’s new song to a lot of different songs that are already out there, but at the end of the day, it’s his first single out there from the new record and this sounds like a hit even if it’s not the most original song ever to be created. It’s probably not a signature song, or rather, the best he’s ever had, but it’s definitely accessible, fun, and light-hearted, for sure. We’ll be sure to be hearing it into the fall. Let me know what you think of it below or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

Listen to the premiere of “Best I Ever Had”. / Purchase “Best I Ever Had” on iTunes.

“BEST I EVER HAD”

[Verse 1]
Melt Antarctica, savin’ Africa
I failed algebra and I miss you sometimes
We’re at war again, save the world again
You can all join in, but you can’t smoke inside

[Bridge 1]
You said “Take me home, I can’t stand this place
‘Cause there’s too many hipsters and I just can’t relate”
You’re my neon gypsy, my desert rain
You’re my “Helter Skelter”, oh how can I explain that

[Chorus]
You’re the best I ever had
And I’m trying not to get stuck in my head
But I read that soda kills you and Jesus saves
On the bathroom wall where I saw your name
You’re the best I ever had
I won’t be the same

[Verse 2]
Night sky full of drones, this neighborhood of clones
I’m looking at the crowd and they’re staring at their phones
They groom the coast line here, it’s starting to disappear (Oh God!)
And maybe once a year, I think to clean my car

[Bridge 2]
Caught my reflection, dropped the call
I’ve been medicated with cigarettes and alcohol
I got vertigo, no I can’t see straight
I got obligations though I’m usually late but

[Chorus]
You’re the best I ever had
And I’m trying not to get stuck in my head
But I think I dropped my wallet in Santa Fe
Lost the only picture I had of you that day and
You’re the best I ever had
I won’t be the same

[Middle 8]
Hey West Virginia, Hey North Dakota
I think I love you, but don’t even know you
Hey Massachusetts, Hey Minnesota
I think I love you, but don’t even know you
Hey Carolina, Hey Oklahoma
I think I love you, but don’t even know you
Hey Alabama, Hey California
I think I love you, but don’t even know you

[Chorus]
You’re the best I ever had (you’re the best I ever had)
And I’m trying not to get stuck in my head (get stuck in my head)
But I passed a lonely sign on the interstate
Saying “Find someone before it gets too late”
You’re the best I ever had (you’re the best I ever had)
I won’t be the same

[Middle 8]
Hey West Virginia, Hey North Dakota (Oh why, oh why)
I think I love you, but don’t even know you (I won’t be the same)
Hey Massachusetts, Hey Minnesota (you’re the best I ever had)
I think I love you, but don’t even know you (I won’t be the same)

Yeah, I won’t be the same

5 Comments

Filed under Single Reviews