JD Graham

REVIEW: JD Graham “A Pound of Rust”


JD Graham – A Pound of Rust

With the opening tunes, there’s a variety of influences. But unlike the singer-songwriters with the darker edges & gruff voices JD Graham (acoustic guitar/vocals) mines a rich field of edgy subjects with an articulate voice. If you could imagine James Taylor or the late Kenny Rankin as lead singers with the Grateful Dead you might come up with JD Graham. That’s the best emulation of what I hear in these tunes & the proficiency is admirable. The approach sounds a little tame but then the songs start & they’re smoky cool in their articulate showcase.

“A Pound of Rust,” is explicit & distinguished. “2 Days South of December,” JD manages to negotiate a usual vocalizing style but puts emphasis on certain words cleverly, holding his notes on lyrics that have resonance. The song’s subtle balladry is vivid like a Steinbeck short story. “Adaline,” cruises the rim of singer-songwriters like Bruce Cockburn & Eric Andersen. Simple with eerie pedal steel, gentle piano notes & melodramatic narrative with JD’s breezy vocal tone all working well.

Produced by Neilson Hubbard (drums) & Ryan Culwell the 12-cuts were laid down in East Nashville for A Pound of Rust (Drops June 23–Independent). The Oklahoma-born JD sounds like he could’ve been musically sculpted from the late 60s-early 70s. His songwriting skill & striking vocal style straddle country with a basic musician’s presence & tonality. His voice is a blend of other notable singers but never resembles anyone specifically.

However, the songwriting is consistently compelling as evident in “Quiet In My Cloud.” It’s no secret that despite a penetrating vocal JD’s life has had his addictions & reckless lifestyles. He speaks from experience & not bitterly –that validates many of his tales. Maybe, just maybe, he has found himself through his superb songs. I found many enjoyable but had to remind myself where these assertive tunes originated. These are songs about reinforcing a life that stumbled out of the starting gate. From the sound of these compositions, there’s a chance the race has just begun. JD is better suited to the recording studio than prison.

“Part-Time Lovin,’” with all its delicate nuances of feeling has its balladry woven between its blues threads & JD’s vocal radiates. “West Virginia,” then detours into a beautifully performed country ballad. Warmth without sacrificing wildness. This is powerful. Hank Williams would be proud. Many of the songs’ haunting qualities are evident. If this is where one can go to be redeemed…this is better than medication.

Highlights – “A Pound of Rust,” “2 Days South of December,” “Adaline,” “Quiet In My Cloud,” “Letter From Conscience,” “Part-Time Lovin,” “West Virginia,” “Sidewalk Bobby,” “Her Memory” & “Runnin’ Through.”

Musicians – Juan Solorzano (pedal steel/acoustic electric & baritone guitars/bass/vibraphone) & Ryan Connors (Hammond organ).

CD cover photography by Neilson Hubbard. The 53-minute CD @ https://thejdgraham.com/

Song premiere – https://americanahighways.org/2023/05/09/song-premiere-jd-graham-quiet-in-my-cloud/

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