When your band is named after J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythical seaport where ships sail away to a far country, listeners know to expect something a little different, something with a palpable depth and a genuine soul.
That’s the sort of music The Gray Havens have been making since 2013. Husband and wife duo Dave and Licia Radford craft songs that take on the structure of a story, sometimes epic and metaphorical, other times profound in their simplicity. Expect rich musical compositions, lyrical imagery, and the smallest enchanting detail that can make a song transcendent.
Dave, lead singer and primary songwriter, has come a long way from his being a top-20 finalist for American Idol Season Five. The Gray Havens have built a steady and growing following as they’ve shaped a sound that is as layered and ambitious as it is accessible and personal.
That sound has reached its zenith with The Gray Havens’ fourth studio release, 2018’s She Waits. With the daunting goal of a creating a concept album, the band set out on what would become the most difficult songwriting journey they’ve ever faced.
It is no small task to write a record that balances the contrast between the temporal and eternal, to explore what the storytellers and poets have meant by glory. Dave’s studio became a sea of scattered papers with unfinished lyrics. He leaned on cowriters, and on producer Ben Shive (Colony House, Marc Martel, Andrew Peterson). “Making this record was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done creatively (maybe period),” Dave confesses. “The lyrics were far from finished going into the studio, and we were hoping that I’d be able to keep pace with recording by day and finishing lyrics by night. That didn’t happen.” He also suffered through vocal issues just before it was time to record. And in the struggle, in the forge, the band persevered. The result is nothing short of a triumph.
She Waits chronicles a band stretching their sound in new directions while they maintain the song-craft that so distinguishes them. The vivid imagery is here, along with the symbolism and scale, but never before has it all resonated so personally. These songs don’t just take the listener on a journey; they meet each listener face to face. They speak to the human condition even while they dance with the divine.
Piano is at the forefront, carrying the melodies as strings, loops, and well-placed guitars and horns decorate the soundscape. The songs balance the tension of earth – “High Enough” – with a bright hope for the future – “Forever” – that shines brightly in our volatile times
More and more, people are taking notice. Spotify added the latest single “Storehouse” to their New Music Friday playlist, which boasts 2.7 million followers. The instant exposure saw hundreds of thousands of listeners discovering The Gray Havens within days. The anticipation for She Waits is at an all-time high, and new and old fans alike will find an album that was hard won.