Her first full-length release since 2015 (though there was an EP last year), Stubborn In My Blood is McGraff’s seventh album and again provides ample evidence of why she’s held in such high regard in Americana circles. Working as ever with husband Tommy Parham as co-producer/writer and guitarist, it kicks off in soulful country style with ‘Pilot of Change’, a call to kick off the chains that hold you back, a theme of taking charge of your life that percolates several numbers, most notably the gospel-shaded piano ballad anthem ‘Let ‘Em See You’re Strong’, a number that’s been adopted by the Me2 movement and other women’s empowerment groups, the uplifting Appalachian waltzing ‘Own Your Sunshine’ and the march beat swayalong autobiographical title track about her Scottish/Transylvanian roots with its banjo backing and whistle.
There’s more backwoods gospel to be heard on the banjo and fiddle shaped ‘The Faithful Ones’ and its call for a community of kindred spirits led by a vision of glory in the face of oppression. On a similar note, ‘Travelin’ By Guitar’ nods to a musician’s life on the road and the power of songs to transform lives, if only for the night.
On a more intimate note, the simply strummed ‘Hole In My Heart’ addresses emotional resilience and offering a shoulder to lean on, Parnham’s electric guitar adding subtle extra colour, the theme echoing in the warblingly sung ‘Here With Me Tonight’ while the Celtic-tinted fiddle backed ‘Faraway Man’ sings about not looking to hold on to things that won’t be held down.
There’s one cover included, the 1969 allegorical folk rock hit ‘One Tin Soldier’, originally recorded by Canadian outfit The Original Caste as a Vietnam war protest song the album ending with dreamy fairground waltzer ‘Forbidden’, a co-write with former Treehouse frontman and sometime Amy Wadge partner Pete Riley and Henry Priestman who, respectively, also play guitar and ukulele. Hook yourself up for a transfusion.
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Artist’s website: www.tiamcgraff.com
‘Let ‘Em See You’re Strong’: