British singer/songwriter David Gray had already released three overlooked albums by the time White Ladder (and its international breakthrough hit, "Babylon") brought his mix of acoustic instruments and electronic samples to the mainstream. Born in Manchester in 1968, Gray relocated to Wales at the age of nine before returning home to attend the University of Liverpool. While in school, he dabbled in several punk bands and began exploring new styles of writing, eventually uncovering his own poetic penmanship. Following a move to London, Gray signed to Hut Records in the United Kingdom and Caroline Records in the United States, releasing the debut single "Birds Without Wings" in 1992. The next year saw the release of his first full-length record, A Century Ends, and Gray's trademark style of fiery vocals countered with folksy, acoustic songcraft began to find an audience, particularly in Ireland. However, despite frequent solo tours (as well as an opening slot for Shawn Colvin), Gray's edgy sophomore effort, Flesh, was met with an underwhelming response in 1994, and he was dropped from his label as a result.