The polished production of Gavin DeGraw’s multi-platinum, self-titled, sophomore full-length actually sounds somewhat overdone compared to the more organic and human sounding Free. A stellar cover of Chris Whitley’s “Indian Summer” opens with hypnotic beats, Doorsy organs à la Ray Manzarek, and a tremoloed slide-guitar that ushers in DeGraw’s bluesy inflections. The title-track is a rootsy serenade that gushes with some of his most powerful singing to date — by the time the chorus kicks in he could be mistaken for vintage Lenny Kravitz. But the two real power ballads here are “Stay” and “Dancing Shoes,” the former a moving confessional that has DeGraw’s dynamic voice breaking where it counts, and the latter a stripped-down, heartbreaking lullaby featuring only piano and DeGraw. Throughout Free the musicianship is seasoned and overflowing with honest chemistry, thanks in part to guitar player Audley Freed from the Black Crowes and drummer Charley Dayton who has worked with Johnny Cash and Keith Richards.

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