The roaring intro of the opening track from Make A Move gives an indication of the change in direction Gavin DeGraw has taken with his fifth record.
Drums take the lead as the album’s slick production is the priority for each of the songs, all of which have co-writers. Gavin’s first album to do so, where all of his prior records were predominately written solo.
It was a choice Gavin made before he started work on this record as an attempt to branch out and “remain relevant” after a positive experience working with co-writers on several of the tracks from his last album, 2011’s Sweeter. As a result, there’s less crunchy guitar and tingly pianos hooks, and more booming beats.
The slight update in his sound is reminiscent to the transition Train had several years back, where they were almost exclusively an Adult Contemporary band for a decade before experiencing the biggest hit of their career with Hey Soul Sister. Like Train, Gavin’s songs have a loosened lyrical style and feel more open and free.
The first single from the album, Best I Ever Had, was co-written with Boys Like Girls‘ Martin Johnson. It is Gavin’s most energetic song yet with its thumping beat and upbeat vocals.
The lyrical couplets in the verses seem to have little to do with each other as the song starts with “Melt Antarctica, savin’ Africa/I failed algebra and I miss you sometimes/We’re at war again, save the world again/You can all join in, but you can’t smoke inside,” yet the song still stands – at least until the bridge. I almost always lose interest in a song that lists off different places that happen to rhyme. For this song, Gavin goes with the American states and my interest has waned.
He recovers later on with his familiar blend of songs about young love and romance, the key to a Gavin DeGraw album that makes his music great for 20-something nostalgia. Yet, the sense of nostalgia has lessened on Make A Move, as if he sacrificed some of the heart for the more current sound.
With that said, Gavin sounds like he enjoyed making this record. It’s much more upbeat as a whole than any of his past ones, and he seems to relish in the idea of maintaining the level of youth who was able to attain in the songs from his first record Chariot, which became a staple on the TV drama circuit ten years ago.
Make A Move is still clearly his album where he’s in control, even if that means taking direction and guidance from those he worked with, including Ryan Tedder (OneRepublic, Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5), Butch Walter (Marvelous 3, Pink, Avril Lavigne), Benny Blanco (Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Ke$ha), and others.
Creating an album with heavy influence from co-writers was a good move for Gavin as he risked becoming dated with his music; yet the change in sound don’t help to emphasize the qualities that differentiates him from others within this genre. The melodies are often buried in the production, making for a particularly unmemorable album.
1. Best I Ever Had
2. Make A Move
3. Finest Hour
4. I’m Gonna Try
5. Who’s Gonna Save Us
6. Everything Will Change
9. Every Little Bit
10. Different For Girls
11. Leading Man