First solo album by British songwriter and multi-instrumentalist
Short Stories is the first solo album by British singer-songwriter Robert Gray. A collection of ten highly original and personal songs about family, love and growing older, each song on the album is truly a portrait in miniature. “I think of my songs as little sketches of a scene”, says Gray “and in those two or three minutes I am trying to paint a picture for the listener”.
A multi-instrumentalist, Gray recorded nearly the whole album by himself in various home studios over the last ten years. “When I look back on the album I have a lot of memories of things that inspired the songs and the places where I wrote or recorded them”. Inspiration for the songs came from many different places. Let’s Grow Old Together is a meditation on spending life together as a couple, whilst Kings & Bishops was written as Gray’s daughter underwent a serious operation at the age of two.
Gray’s songwriting horizons extend, however, way beyond the walls of the family home. The Setting of the Sun was written in response to the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and correctly predicted his downfall at the ballot box four years later. Beneath The Waterline is a heartbroken look at the Brexit saga through the eyes of a Brit living abroad (Gray: “I call it Brexile”).
Starting out at a young age on the piano, and aged 13 on the guitar, Gray’s musical journey has included stints playing rock, jazz and folk in bands in the London music scene. In 2003 he released an album of original music, Soulmine, together with Australian singer-songwriter Troy Utz, and various EPs followed in the next couple of years. His music career then went on-hold until moving to Aachen, Germany in 2012 with his young family.
Largely self-taught as a musician (“I can’t really read music” admits Gray), he is happiest playing the guitar, and has a highly original style welded from influences such as J.J. Cale, Richard Thompson and Chet Atkins. He also switches with ease to piano, bass guitar, drums or even the mandolin, as the song requires. His rich, baritone singing voice resonates with echoes of Cat Stevens or Mark Knopfler, and percolates through the songs like a strong coffee.
Having taken his time completing Short Stories, Gray is already at work on a follow-up. “I already have another album of songs ready to record” he reports “but these ones will have a more live, rougher feel to them. I want each album that I release to have a different sound - I would hate to repeat myself every time.”