Sweeter starts off with a somewhat grungy sound that made up a lot of Gavin DeGraw‘s self-titled second album, as well as his biggest hit I Don’t Want To Be from his first record Chariot. Like many of his past songs, the album opener and title-track Sweeter is about desiring an unreachable girl who is with someone else but “someone else’s sugar’s sweeter.”
Gavin returns to the familiar sound that graces much of his first two records after taking a step-away from the piano rock sound for a more lighter-fared acoustic record in 2009’s Free. The first single Not Over You is reminiscent of what gave his Chariot record the charm that made it one of that year’s best albums. While Gavin’s writing isn’t spectacular, he takes the “everyman” approach with very relatable lyrics that push the point along with no possible doubt that what he’s saying isn’t what he’s thinking. There’s a certain weakness to this however, such as in Soldier, which uses a lot of overdone cliches and analogies. “I’ll get it if you need it/I’ll search if you can’t see it/you’re thirsty – I’ll be rain/You get hurt – I’ll take your pain/…/I’ll be your soldier”
Sweeter doesn’t contain any tracks that blew me away but Gavin has never offered up anything in the way of the the instant classic. His songs aren’t timeless but they work to build a sense of nostalgia around. Perhaps that’s why he was reliable for providing great soundtrack music for television shows in the middle of the last decade. Now that the trend of shows like The O.C. and One Tree Hill (to which he provided the theme song for) are long gone, his popularity must rely fully on his fan-base, word of mouth and the chance radio hit. Sweeter provides a good backdrop for the final days of sunshine before the snow hits but once the first snowfall happens, it might be okay to let the dust gather.
2. Not Over You
3. Run Every Time
6. You Know Where I’m At
9. Where You Are
10. Spell It Out