Black Music Matters Festival

The Grahams

Glory Bound Deluxe edition – 2016 (Creative Entertainment Network/RED)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by The Grahams

Whatever The Grahams claim as their back story matters little compared to what they've achieved on the strength of "Glory Bound." Indeed their pedigree points to an authenticity seemingly ploughed from the very roots of Americana - honest to God country, bluegrass, folk and an ample dose of hoedown holler. The musical pool they draw from seems to agree - producer David Gaza, the Watkins Family, Kenneth Pattengale of the Milk Carton Kids and John Fullbright all contribute their talents, making this not only a super session of sorts, but also an ideal introduction with some actual impetus.

Happily then, Doug and Alyssa Graham merit that support, rarely pushing the boundaries, but affirming the sounds that are part and parcel of some obvious and indelible influences. Indeed, the duo tackles tradition with an earnest intent, and while they obviously haven't been around long enough to have absorbed those sounds firsthand, they emulate those efforts with such pervasive authenticity, it's needless to quibble about any lack of direct descent. A debut album, 2013's "Riverman's Daughter," seemed the perfect set-up, a survey of the sights and sounds gleaned from a road trip that paralleled the path of the Mighty Mississippi. This time around, they take inspiration from Woody Guthrie and riding the rails, promising that a documentary will also follow soon after.

Again, none of this is new as far as extending any insights or pushing the parameters. Which is just fine. The rumble and regret of "Glory Bound," the fiddle frenzy and honky tonk of "Kansas City" and the pure gospel tones of "Mama" assume both craft and credibility, and assure the fact that The Grahams will be ones to watch. And given the deluxe edition of "Glory Bound that boasts five additional songs, those special guests on the marquee and The Grahams' own cool credence, there's little doubt folks will be watching indeed.