Aidin Vaziri | Nearly a decade after his fourth album, “White Ladder,” made him a star and unwitting inspiration for a generation of hand-wringing British troubadours, David Gray returns with his eighth studio album, “Draw the Line.” The self-produced set includes powerful duets with Annie Lennox and Jolie Holland, along with a handful of songs exploring emotional turmoil with at least one unexpected lyrical twist.
Q: At what point do you think you’ll be able to take “Babylon” off the set list?
A: I don’t really want to at the moment. I did try to do that for a few years because I had been pounding away at it so hard I couldn’t find the emotion and shape of it. But the version we’re doing now is very sweet, very soft. The song really blossoms in a different way.
Q: On the title track of the new record you sing, “Here we are, butt naked.” Where did that come from?
A: My daughter was at some sort of play date, and I was lost in the swirling mist of creativity. I just sat uncomfortably in the corner writing on my own hand and trousers and biting my lip to remember lines and melodies. It was a song I had been waiting for, and this cascade of ideas came at once. I came home and couldn’t sleep that night. We went into the studio the next day, and by the time we got the take I was clinging on with my fingers.