Sultry-voiced Gretta Ray has returned with her first track for 2018, ‘Time’. It’s the first single from her upcoming EP Here and Now and it’s a stunning, swirling track reminiscent of Kate Miller-Heidke’s work. As Ray puts it, it’s “a break-up song without any sense of aggression, frustration or disagreement”.
Strong piano progressions drive the song from the outset. There’s no intro or warm-up – ‘Time’ jumps straight to Ray’s striking vocals over emphatic piano chords and a basic drum beat. It builds towards the chorus, bringing in a growling guitar to keep everything moving. A minute in, though, where you’d expect a chorus to lie, everything is drawn back and Ray’s deep vocals come to the fore. It works well to have this bridge-type refrain earlier in the song. It kept the track spiralling along, before hitting the real chorus a bit later. Tricks like this meant it was all over before I even realised, and it had me listening to it multiple times to make sure I picked it all up.
While it’s not as energetic or as catchy as Ray’s previous tracks, it’s a good showcase of what she’s capable of. Her breakout ‘Drive’ might have been a slightly more radio-friendly track, but it’s clear she’s matured a lot in the two years since winning Triple J Unearthed High. ‘Time’ is exactly the track Ray apparently envisioned: “thick with melancholy and memory” over a break-up. It’s beautifully sad, and very well suited to Ray’s vocal style. It might be a bit of a jump away from what she’s known for, but it’s a worthwhile one.
Ray has also announced a headline tour in support of Here and Now, at which she’ll surely debut some new music. If the rest of the EP is of the same standard as ‘Time’, it could be a great year for Gretta Ray.