|staysail was released October 23 on 307 Knox Records|
Raleigh's Gray Young cemented their place in North Carolina's music scene with their impressive 2009 debut album "Firmament". The band gave us an emotionally and musically driven album, impressing listeners with how dynamic of a sound they could truly provide. The band took the post-rock archetype and somehow made their album stand out amongst the rest with how raw and soothing their sound was. Gray Young had their album release show for their sophomore record "staysail", released on 307 Knox Records, at The Pour House in Raleigh on October 23 and while the band may not have made as strong a statement with "staysail" as they did with their debut, they certainly proved that "Firmament" wasn't just a fluke.
"Staysail" opens up with "Ten Years" a track that unfolds beautifully, giving new listeners of the band a good taste of what to expect from the band. One thing I love about Gray Young is that the band doesn't just use the instrumental parts of their songs as a buildup to their vocals as most bands do, they make each part of the song just as important as any of the others. In a way Chas McKeown's vocals serve as their own instrument, often times bringing another interesting melody to the already overwhelming sound produced by the instruments. But not every song is a post-rock anthem on this album, and I'm in no way talking poorly about the album. Some of the songs such as "Unbound" are primarily acoustic songs, even adding a banjo riff to the song while Chas' voice lingers over it all. While songs like this do show that the band is more than just post-rock, it does seem to throw off the flow of the album a bit. Another acoustic song that truly lets Chas' vocals shine is the closing track, "The Clearing". It's a bit unfortunate that it only last a minute and a half because the song definitely has the potential to erupt into something far bigger, but it still fits as a great closer to the album.
The album's high points though definitely still sit within the sounds of their post-rock songs though. Tracks like "The Dawning Low" and "Meridian" showcase what was so brilliant about "Firmament", but the album's absence of more of these songs is one of the reasons that it seemed to be a small step back as opposed to their debut. By no means is "staysail" a bad album though, each song keeps you thoroughly entertained and each listen through makes you want to dig deeper and deeper into the album. The album continues to give you something new with every listen, a feat that certainly shouldn't be overlooked for any band. Gray Young have taken another step towards proving just how unique the band's sound is and hopefully they do the same with their next album.