David Bray’s Night Rains sways between classic rock and soul—an album that seems to be born out of conversations in a smoky bar over a night of beers.
As the first release in a trilogy of albums exploring urban isolation, Night Rains sets a distinct tone that is likely to continue throughout the upcoming releases. It’s a tone that is both hopeful and reflective as Bray explores the urban life from a variety of perspectives.
The band that Bray has gathered for this album, and hopefully the rest of the trilogy, is a joy to listen to. With a rhythm section featuring the late Bob Babbitt on bass—a member of the legendary Motown Funk Brothers—and vocals from musical partner, Lorraine Reid. Also featured are Garth Hudson of The Band and Kim Mitchell—it isn’t a surprise that this album feels and sounds very Canadian.
Lyrically, Bray explores everything from being an aging political activist (“Renegade”), to the universal feeling of loneliness (“Who Do You Turn To?”) and “Road Rage”—a straight up country barn burner and one of the album’s stand-out tracks.
In a day and age when most people consume their music by the song, rather than as an album, Bray has produced a record that is thematic and coherent as a whole without being heavy-handed.
That isn’t to say there aren’t a couple of hiccups along the way. Bray breaks out a couple of funky slow jams that just miss the mark. “This Bar Inherits the Meek” reminds me of R. Kelly, and is juxtaposed with lyrics about jukeboxes and bartenders that feels out of place.
“Go Out Dancing” is a post-breakup song in which our protagonist goes out dancing while reflecting on the fallout from a relationship, rather than his former partner. Like “This Bar Inherits the Meek,” it doesn’t quite fit.
With a superb band backing him, Bray’s Night Rains is an album that sounds both timeless and Canadian. A solid album that explores a variety of musical styles and is perfect for a rainy night in or playing on the jukebox at your local bar.