Subtitled The Best of the Early Years, Shine as you may have guessed traces the early steps of David Gray before he achieved success, which means everything here is from his pre-White Ladder days. Between 1993 and 1996 he released three albums, A Century Ends, Flesh and Sell, Sell, Sell.
This compilation works extremely well, as a lot of Gray’s early material is among his best. Even on his early material Gray sounds weathered and humbled, and beautiful tracks like “Shine” and “Birds Without Wings” certainly attest to that. As well, songs like “Late Night Radio” and “Coming Down” have been waiting patiently to be discovered, and certainly do deserve to be.
Sequenced non-chronologically, the album flows quite nicely, as this material doesn’t differ too much in terms of style, but you can hear him grow from simple acoustics to the larger rock sound on later tracks like “Faster, Sooner, Now”.
Gray’s first three albums are indeed better than his two post-White Ladder albums, A New Day at Midnight and Life in Slow Motion, and are worth a listen in their own right, but for a starting point, Shine is the best place to do so.