After having released his first album independently, Gavin DeGraw had the chance to record a brilliant first major-label album release, and he took the opportunity with arms outstretched. On July 22nd 2003 Chariot was released and never really got the credit it deserved. A year later, on July 27th 2004, DeGraw released this album again, but titled Chariot (Stripped). This was just a version of the album with as little instruments, down to the bare minimum. DeGraw is one of the best acoustic, singer-songwriters of this day, but never really got his breakthrough over here in the UK. His gap in the British market is blocked by the likes of James Morrison.

Follow Through is the first track and has been featured on a few albums including an ice-cream company. As the intro gets louder, DeGraw only needs to sing the first word of “Oh” for you to realise how great his voice is. It’s filled with soul and a brilliant guitar melody to set you on course for one of the best singer-songwriter albums you’ll hear for a while.

Chariot is next, the title track to the album. It’s chorus provides you with a DeGraw display that’ll keep you playing the song for days. This song is a stand-out track on the album and one of my favourites of his in general. It also managed to reach #114 on the UK singles chart.

Just Friends follows and is a nice piano number with a percussion background of drums and DeGraw’s vocals mixing in delightfully. “Girl your body fits me like a glove” is crooned by DeGraw, his voice almost slightly rough in parts, making the song change dynamically.

(Nice To Meet You) Anyway “I don’t wanna get too close” is sung out from the beginning by DeGraw, letting you know this song is clearly about not wanting to stick about after meeting someone. His vocals are stunning as he easily reaches his high notes and moves from each note to the next so comfortably, flowing perfectly.

Chemical Party is next, and is a slightly different kind of song than what we’ve heard before. About drugs, DeGraw distracts you from the content by entrancing you with his vocals. The drumming and guitar riffs definitely make you tap along with any part of your body you can find.

Belief comes straight in next, with an almost acapella styled intro from DeGraw before the instruments kick in. He sings “Oh you stood by me and i’ll stand by my beliefs.” This song is definitely a ‘get your lighters out and start swaying them in the air” kind of moment.

Crush follows, escalating into a mega chorus that makes you sing along to his raspy voice. “Oh crush, I got a crush!” we all croon along with him. He sure knows how to write simple, but effective lyrics.

I Don’t Want To Be is the next track, and the only track to do well anywhere other than the States. It’s been covered by many reality TV contestants. No surprise that, along with most peoples, it’s my favourite from the album. It’s not a ‘follow the crowd’ thing, it’s just such a fantastic song, catching you with its harmonious melodies and killer riffs.

Meaning follows up, with DeGraw starting us off in his nice little falsetto range. Leading us back to his soulful voice, DeGraw’s long chorus proceeds us to join in with the long noted “love”. This is one of my favourite songs, and it hardly gets the recognition it deserves.

More Than Anyone is a good little piano ballad from DeGraw, showing us his tender side by singing a love song. The piano melody is constructed beautifully and DeGraw’s vocals really shine through.

Over-Rated is next, and, in my opinion, starts off a little weakly. But DeGraw pulls it back, so all is not lost. The chorus is brilliant as he sings “what i’m anticipating, everything else will be over-rated baby.” and takes you to the bridge, which is the highlight of the song.

Get Lost has a slow intro, an almost bluesy feel to it. With a simple arrangement of a piano, drums and guitar, this song is a nice, smooth end to the album. An album which you’ll most likely stick on repeat.

Overall, Chariot is a masterpiece, to put it simply. DeGraw’s vocals, the instrumental background, everything is extremely close to being perfect. It’s a fantastic album and i’d truly recommend it to anyone. He surely has some work to do to top this with his follow up album. I’d definitely give it 8.5/10.

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