He may only be relevant to those who still manage to sit through episodes of One Tree Hill long after Chad Michael Murray departed, but 34-year-old Gavin DeGraw is making his best attempt at a comeback. After a few enjoyable power pop songs on his first two albums (like “Follow Through,” whose lyrics filled many an away message in the early aughts) and heavy publicity thanks to prime placement on a CW drama, DeGraw’s last two albums (Gavin DeGraw and Free) fell flat, sweeping him under the pop music rug in exchange for younger, cuter entrees like Justin Bieber and the Jonas Brothers. Now that he’s resurfaced, with a new Ryan Tedder creation to boot, he’ll be looking to see if new album Sweeter fits in with what the kids are actually listening to these days, or if he’s destined to join the likes of Train on the adult contemporary shelves. (It still might win him a Grammy!)
“Not Over You” is standard DeGraw fare: introspective tales from the nice guy, with a piano-driven melody. The initial somber admittance that he spends his days reminiscing with pictures and love songs, unable to forget—or get angry with—the girl who broke his heart (“But still you’re magnificent”) sets him up as a sap who’s reached rock bottom. (Didn’t you hear the dramatic pausing? Things are really bad.) But before you can slap the pathetic out of him (or turn the song off), DeGraw’s chorus builds to full-on denial, when faced with a round of questioning from his ex (“If you ask me how I’m doing, I would say I’m doing just fine / I would lie and say that you’re not on my mind”). It’s a defense mechanism that resonates with anyone who has suffered through unexpected run-ins with a former flame, and only when he his own denial can he begin to move on—a mantra he conveys through a series of unnecessary vocal runs and lengthy pauses that sound more laughable than emotionally resonant. “Not Over You” is not earth-shattering; it’s a song we’ve heard many times before, but its DeGraw’s distinctive voice that makes us incapable of shaking it off right away, becoming catchy to the point of delirium. Which makes us think it’ll go the way of Train, since that was the description of “Hey Soul Sister” after all.