Jon Dee Graham
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2006, Volume 13, #5
Written by John Metzger
Coming in the wake of his epic 2004 masterstroke The Great Battle, Jon Dee Grahamís latest outing Full canít help but to feel a little less satisfying. Nevertheless, it also is hardly a disappointment, even if it takes a little longer to get off the ground. Once it does, Full inevitably proves to be filled with equally moving fare. Not wanting to fix what wasnít broken, Graham merely broadened his stylistic range while pursuing a similar thematic strategy that utilizes his charactersí struggles for redemption from their lifelong strings of mistakes as a means of exploring the fine line, but ultimately deep chasm, that separates winning from losing. With a voice that is tarnished by whiskey and cigarettes, he frequently sounds like a dead ringer for Tom Waits, and rather than run away from this comparison, he has learned not only to embrace but also to control it. From the clattering, junkyard blues of Tie a Knot to the fragile optimism of O Dearest One to the sad-eyed resignation of Swept Away, Graham transforms his gravelly articulations into an emotional springboard that exudes an air of world-weary determination. Elsewhere, he allows the music to carry a greater share of the load as he invokes John Hiatt on the roots-y Jubilee; places a Southern spin upon the Rolling Stones during Holes; dabbles in í70s-style crunchiness on Bonaparte; and seamlessly fuses the spiraling guitars of Pearl Jam with the uplifting, gospel-infused drive of U2 on Something Wonderful. Still, itís his lyrics that matter most, and Graham wisely saves his best song for last. Pondering the implications of being tossed out of Eden, he imbues Beloved Garden with enough personal intimacy that it neatly ties together the albumís loose strands. In doing so, Graham effectively washes away Fullís few minor missteps, leaving behind a potent reminder of mankindís lonely place in an often cruel world. Ĺ
Full is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box