March 18, 2004

Test Spin: Gavin DeGraw

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The WB’s new series One Tree Hill may not be producing stellar actors or plausible plot lines, but there is one good thing to come out of this overdone teen drama, and it is Gavin DeGraw, the creator of the hit theme song, “I Don’t Want to Be.” Gavin combines character, originality, emotion and integrity to produce a refreshing and invigorating debut album. Chariot touches on all aspects of relationships, from beginning to end, the highs and the lows.

For me, the ultimate test of a CD is whether it can withstand a long road trip. Often times I am excited about an artist until the second hour in the car when I become disenchanted; but not this time. I recently drove to and from Boston with Chariot in my CD player and found myself cruising along the Mass Pike lost in thoughts provoked by Gavin’s soulful voice.

Gavin is actually a relatively local flavor. He grew up in upstate New York and went to Ithaca College for a semester, but he dropped out after one semester to go to Berklee College of Music and then hit the Manhattan club scene where he acquired a strong following. He is a skillful pianist along the lines of Billy Joel or Elton John and shows off this talent in the ballads “Just Friends,” “More Than Anyone,” and the title track.

Gavin is not merely a piano man, rocking the electric guitar in “Chemical Party” and “I Don’t Want to Be” with the help of guitarist Michael Ward (The Wallflowers) and drummer Joey Waronker (R.E.M. and Beck). Gavin’s music has the unique ability to pump you up as well as mellow you out, making this an excellent CD to complement a long road trip.

Archived article by Kelsey Nichols