The Grahams – New limited 7 inch

Photo by David Johnson.

Vibrant Nashville-based Americana duo The Grahams (pronounced Grams) announce extensive February-March 2018 UK tour previewing material from two eagerly anticipated projects due later this year – their new studio album produced by Richard Swift (Black Keys, Arcs, Shins), and continuing their adventurous exploration of the USA – this time around on two wheels – the soundtrack to their new feature length documentary Love & Distortion.

In the Fall of 2016, while the country reels from a seemingly unstoppable vortex of disorientation, musicians & lifelong soulmates The Grahams, set out on a spectacular motorcycle expedition across America’s time warped Route 66. Amidst the neon, the romance, the heat, the music and the sheer power of nostalgia, The Grahams explore the concept of “real” America with the eccentric and notorious characters who live and work in the strange and mysterious world that is Route 66.

Featuring a surreal soundtrack with contributions from Nashville’s finest; Elizabeth Cook, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Dylan LeBlanc, Chuck Mead, Lilly Hiatt, The Grahams and many more, Love & Distortion is not a travel guide or a musical biopic. This feature length documentary, which follows The Grahams down the Mother Road, is an unconventional narrative weaving in and out of moments and realities that can be found in the various sub-cultures of America’s Main Street.

On the first taster from the soundtrack, which will only be available as a limited edition 7” single at UK shows, until the full soundtrack’s official release later this year, The Grahams interpret The Pretenders’ ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’, a Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic in 1986, and Mazzy Star’s 1994 cult classic ‘Fade Into You’.

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THE GRAHAMS – The Grahams and Friends (Live in Studio) (Three Sirens Music Group)

Live In StudioAlyssa and Doug Graham have spent nearly their entire lives exploring music together. Friends since she was seven and he was nine, they became a couple in their teens, then husband and wife. Along the way, they also became The Grahams, a dynamic Americana duo. Their 2013 debut, Riverman’s Daughter, was followed-up by riding the rails. From this they got a studio album, a documentary and a live album – in venues from Sun Studio to the City of New Orleans train. The Grahams and Friends (Live in Studio) is a collection of these songs, none of which have been previously released in the UK or Ireland.

The album opens with the bundle of energy which is ‘Glory Bound’. The lyrics tell, in theory, of regret for the things we do when we are young but the tune is the joy of youth not the downbeats of regret; the chorus is uplifting “These engines whine when the pistons sound/This train is glory bound”. Watch the video and you’ll see the threads of the album: the feisty female voice, lively Americana music, humour as well as seriousness, “Wish I hadn’t written my rebellion on my lungs”, desert, trains.

The next two tracks continue the energy and feistiness of the opener. In ‘Griggstown’ Alyssa Graham sings of pistols, horses, the dark side of town, bottles in hand. On ‘Gambling Girl’, “I might have been your girl once/But you’re never gonna be my man” and “You can’t trust a gambling girl”.

Then the album moves to a different place. ‘Lay Me Down’, ‘Tender Annabelle’, ‘Broken Bottle’, and ‘The Lonely Ones’ are gentler but still from life’s harder places “I sometimes get burned from the heat of beauty” (‘Broken Bottle’) “Keep me safe from any danger except for this/Take me out along the brink, Where I don’t need to think/Shut my eyes tender angel with a kiss” (‘Lay Me Down’). ‘Blow Wind Blow’ in particular balances the acoustic guitars with the singer’s strong voice and balances verses about family members against a chorus inspired by the line from King Lear that gives the song its title.

‘Biscuits’ is an invitation to the local boys to give up fishing so the singer can show them ‘”how the biscuits rise”. This is not a song about cooking. It has a jaunty tune, a knowing vocal, double entendres, references to Maybelline, and “I got something special cooking”.

The dream is to play with as many great people as we can, and share the music as much as we can”, said Doug Graham. The friends working with the duo include John Fullbright, Alvin Youngblood Hart, members of the Watkins Family and the Milk Carton Kids and many more.

At the end is a version of ‘City of New Orleans’. Like the whole album, you get the sense that it was great fun to record and that the duo are finding a path to their own version of the American dream as they travel both musically and geographically. The album is released on January 27th. Enjoyable as the album is, this feels like music to see live and the release coincides with a 14-date tour to England, beginning in Sheffield on February 22nd and closing in London on March 9th.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website:

‘Glory Bound’ – official video:

The Grahams – new album

The Grahams

Dynamic Nashville-based Americana duo The Grahams announce the release of The Grahams and Friends (Live in Studio), a combined collection of songs from Rattle The Hocks (the soundtrack from the film), and the deluxe edition of their 2015 album Glory Bound, none of which have previously been released in the UK or Ireland.

Their friends include Cody & Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars), Sara & Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek, Watkins Family), John C. Stubblefield & Rick Steff (Lucero), Kenneth Pattengale (Milk Carton Kids), John Fullbright, Davíd Garza, Alvin Youngblood Hart and many more.

The original Glory Bound album, produced by Wes Sharon and largely co-written with childhood friend Bryan McCann, was inspired by the Grahams’ rail-riding expedition into the heart of American roots music. At the time, Doug Graham explained, “The dream is to play with as many great people as we can, and share the music as much as we can.” They certainly achieve the first goal with these songs, which feature some of the finest talents in folk/Americana.

“It was pretty much a free-for-all in the studio for five days,” Alyssa says. “People were popping in hourly and picking up all kinds of instruments.” They’re not even sure exactly who did what in some cases, but there’s no mistaking the voices of John Fullbright, Sara and Sean Watkins, the Milk Carton Kids, Susannah Choffel and Garza, who trade leads and harmonies as featured artists.

Rattle The Hocks, directed and produced by Cody Dickinson (son of late auteur, legendary James Dickinson and founding member of the North Mississippi Allstars) is a musical documentary that captures The Grahams relentless journey to explore the relationship between railroads and American roots music-though what’s inadvertently captured is a husband and wife obtaining their American dream.

“There is a special connection between American folk music and the railroad that has no parallel elsewhere in the world. Rail lines stitch together the sprawling fabric of American song. As writers of Americana music, our goal is to draw on the deep, recurring sources of American folk culture, giving them new shape.” The Grahams

Alyssa and Doug Graham have spent nearly their entire lives exploring music together. Friends since she was 7 and he was 9, they became a couple in their teens, then husband and wife. Somewhere along the way, they also became The Grahams, a dynamic Americana duo who’ve married their love of adventure with a desire to build on foundations laid by their musical predecessors. Their first song-crafting expedition, along the Mississippi’s Great River Road, became their 2013 debut, Riverman’s Daughter. For its follow-up, Glory Bound, they rode the rails – and wound up recording not only a studio album, but Rattle The Hocks, a documentary and live album recorded on the move and in venues from Sun Studio to Amtrak’s famed City of New Orleans train.

Artists’ website:

“Doug’s mastery of the resonator guitar is matched by Alyssa’s spectacularly dexterous vocal chords ensuring their blend is beautifully matched to the breadth and scope of their music” American Roots UK

‘Glory Bounds’ – official video:

The Grahams – Glory Bound (12 South GRAM003)

The Grahams Glory BoundThe fact that they’ve spent their lives together since they were kids goes a long way to explaining the chemistry between Alyssa and Doug Graham’s sophomore album, a 12 track Americana collection that mixes up the occasional ballad with more lively and rumbustious numbers such as the title track opener, an express train, leg slapping rocker where she numbers all the regrets of a misspent youth when she felt the need to “put the hammer down”.

Like its predecessor, 2013’s Riverman’s Daughter, which came from them travelling the Mississippi’s Great River Road, only this time, riding the rails across America, capturing the rhythm of the life. Other up-tempo material includes a bluesy choogling ‘Gambling Girl’, the fiddle hoe down bounce of ‘Kansas City’ and hand clapping country gospel ‘Mama’, while, taking the pace down just a notch, the Dobro-accompanied ‘Borderland’ , the pedal-steel rolling ‘The Spinner’ and a twangy, upbeat ‘Promised Land’ are solid honky-tonk country and ‘Blow Wind Blow’ is a dark, traditional-coloured folk swaying number with Celtic fiddle and organ driven chorus and, referencing serving in Iraq, a lyric about families left behind and alone.

Showing the more melancholic, slower side of the coin, ‘Lay Me Down’ offers a tender, southern country-soul romantic ballad with ‘The Wild One’ calling to mind The Band, ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ in particular, and then it’s back to the jazzy swing and Dolly Parton touches of ‘Biscuits’, further emphasising the duo’s musical versatility. Highly recommended.

Mike Davies

Artists’ website:

‘Gambling Girl’ – official video: