Well now, this is an interesting one. The Grahams, husband and wife Americana duo Doug and Alyssa Grahams, made their debut in 2013 with Riverman’s Daughter, a collection of songs following the Mississippi’s Great River Road. For the follow-up they went by rail, recording not only the Glory Bound album but also Rattle The Hocks, a documentary and live album partly recorded on the move.
Their latest, The Grahams and Friends (Live In Studio), draws on songs from both, including five live bonus cuts from the deluxe edition of the former, which have never been previously released in the UK with, as the title says, contributions from assorted friends. They have an impressive address book too, with those dropping by including Alvin Youngblood Hart, The Milk Carton Kids, John Fullbright, The Norman Sisters and both Cody and Luther Dickinson.
Taking the deluxe edition material first, the compilation opens with that album’s sprightly title track, Alyssa singing about youthful regrets but, on this version, joined by Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins on vocals and fiddle and brother Sam on guitar. Alejandro Escovedo features on their cover of his reflective bruised heart lament Broken Bottle and Alejandro Escovedo and Suzanna Choffel drop by for a rousing rendition of Mama, Doug’s gospel tribute to his late mother while Kenneth Pattengale from The Milk Carton Kids contributes to the spare close harmony piano ballad The Lonely Ones. The final cut from the album sees John Fulbright duetting with Alyssa on the organ-backed, swampy blues folk of drowning ballad Tender Annabelle, a track that resurfaces at the end of the album in a more swaggering live version from the documentary project with barroom piano, among others Hart and the Dickersons weighing in.
Although several featured in studio versions on the original Glory Bound album, the remaining cuts are all taken from Rattle The Hocks, comprising the horns parping New Orleans stomp Kansas City, the equally uptempo rattling along Griggstown, bluesy boogies Biscuits and Gambling Girl with their loping rhythm and resonator guitar, gospel-hued ballad Lay Me Down, the sway-along acoustic trad folk strum Blow Wind Blow and the Johnny Cash-like honky tonk chug of The Spinner. There’s also one song exclusive to the documentary, a loose-limbed, good-time, brushed drums and burbling trombone and banjo cover of one of the all-time classic railroad songs, Steve Goodman’s City of New Orleans.
The duo tour the UK through February and March, screening the documentary and holding Q&A sessions as well as playing the songs, you’re well advised to ride the rails with them.
The Grahams and Friends is released on 27 January via Three Sirens Music Group
Rattle the Hocks – Documentary Trailer
UK Tour Dates
February 22 – The Greystones – Sheffield
February 23 – Henry Tudor House – Shrewsbury
February 24 – The Met – Bury
February 25 – Philharmonic – Liverpool
February 26 – NRFH – Gateshead
February 28 – Victoria Hall – Settle
March 1 – Arlington Arts Centre – Arlington
March 2 – Ashcroft Arts Centre – Fareham
March 3 – Salisbury Arts Centre – Salisbury
March 4 – Seven Arts Centre – Leeds
March 5 – The Lantern – Bristol
March 7 – Ropetackle – Shoreham
March 8 – The Convent – Stroud
March 9 – Kings Place – London