Chris GrayChris Gray
Album: Diamonds In Your Tree
Label: Sunn Creative
Tracks: 11

Having opened for the likes of Roger Daltrey, The Charlatans, Status Quo, Matt Cardle and Turin Brakes, Chris Gray has clearly got some chops. On the evidence of this first album, he's got some damned fine songs as well.

Intense but not to the point of suffocating the appeal, he chases big themes and widescreen stories through the lyrics of Big Guns and We Fall Down, but then pulls it all closer to home to deliver the earnest, heartfelt Feel Your Love. Suzy Won't See Me invites the listener to stretch out their arms, smile widely and be glad that major chords and hook-laden melodies are just so damned appealing, while the folkier inflections of the new single She Loves the Morning perhaps say more about Gray's musical anatomy - a skeleton of classic British guitar pop influences from The Beatles to The La's, with a stone soul appreciation of that much maligned musical hydra folk-rock.

In fact, forget the labels, if you want to wrap your ears around some quality songwriting that will lift your heart as well as your eyebrows, you could do far worse than seek out this album.

Nick Churchill