14 Shades of Grey is the fourth studio album by American rock band Staind, released on May 20, 2003. The album continues to develop a post-grunge sound seen on the band's previous album Break the Cycle, though the songs on 14 Shades of Grey have fewer pop hooks, focusing more on frontman Aaron Lewis's emotions. It is the band's last album to be released from Elektra Records.
The album featured four singles and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, with first week sales of 220,000 copies. By July 2003, 14 Shades of Grey had been certified gold then later platinum.
After finishing their tour schedule, Staind allowed Lewis and his wife to conceive their first child and settle for a few months. They then took about five weeks to write new songs before they began recording in Los Angeles. The band also spent a week developing the songs at producer Josh Abraham's house. Guitarist Mike Mushok noted it as the first time Staind has actually written in the studio.
In January 2003, Staind planned on a May 6 release date for their untitled fourth album. This date persisted into March during which an album title was announced. However, this would have to be delayed a few weeks.
Aaron Lewis elaborated on the lighter direction of 14 Shades of Grey:
"It's kind of a logical progression where we're getting older now. . . [Guitarist] Mike [Mushok] is married, and I'm married now with a kid and we're that much deeper into figuring out as far as lyrically goes and figuring out our trades as far as writing songs go."
Guitarist Mike Mushok described the album title in a 2003 interview:
"I think it's kind of referring to how in life there's black and white and then there's this grey area. . . I think the older you get you start to realize that more things are grey and not so much black and white."
The song "Layne" is a tribute to Layne Staley, late Alice in Chains singer. The song "Zoe Jane" honors Aaron Lewis' firstborn daughter. Some shots of Zoe Jane are featured in the video for So Far Away.
First editions of the album included a limited edition bonus DVD featuring footage of the band from their early years to the present, along with album lyrics and new band photos. For a time, fans could use the CD to download a bonus acoustic song "Let it Out" from the Staind website, but the page was later removed. The song was later included on the deluxe edition of the band's next album, Chapter V.
A DVD-Audio edition of the album was also released, featuring a 5.1 surround sound version of the album, at high resolution (96kHz/24-bit).
The single "Price to Play" was released in early anticipation of the album's debut. Three more singles were released over the next several months with accompanying music videos.
Staind supported 14 Shades of Grey with a series of in-store appearances followed by free club performances. They also performed with Label mates Cold during the summer of 2003. Concert setlists incorporated songs from all the band's albums including a few tracks from Tormented, Staind's lesser known record.
All lyrics written by Aaron Lewis; all music composed by Staind.Aaron Lewis – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Mike Mushok – lead guitar
Johnny April – bass, backing vocals
Jon Wysocki – drums
AdditionalJosh Abraham -- Keyboards, Producer, Programming, String Arrangements
Brandon Belsky -- Assistant Engineer
Jon Berkowitz -- Engineer
Gregory Gigendad Burke -- Art Direction, Design
DJ Lethal -- A&R
Fred Durst -- A&R
Jones G -- Assistant
Scott Gutierrez -- Assistant
David Khan's -- String Arrangements
Anthony Mandlet -- Photo
Cailan McCarthy -- Artist Coordination
Joey Paradise -- Assistant
Jeff Philips -- Assistant Engineer
Tony Reyes -- Keyboards
Jordan Schur -- Executive Producer
Steve Sisco -- Assistant
Anthony Valcic -- Engineer, Keyboards, Programming
Mark Valentine -- Assistant
Dane Venable -- Product Manager
Darren Venbitti -- Assistant
Andy Wallace -- Mixing
Josh Wilbur -- Digital Editing
Ryan Williams -- Engineer
Initial critical response ranged from mixed to average. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has received an average score of 41, based on 10 reviews.