Greg Graffin: Cold As The Clay (Anti/Shock)

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Greg Graffin: Cold As The Clay
Greg Graffin: Cold As The Clay (Anti/Shock)

Okay, I'll admit it, I've never heard a note by Bad Religion, the band Graffin usually fronts (and which is regularly described as "punk" and had an album entitled Recipe For Hate).

But this stripped back album -- and the fact I've learned that Graffin holds a degree in geology, a PhD in zoology, and taught evolutionary history at Cornell University -- makes me much more interested.

A check of the band's website reveals socio-political essays by Graffin, and a keen musical sensibility as well: he grew up on old time folk in Wisconsin and Indiana.

This album finds him out solo and interpreting dark and traditional songs like Ornie Wise, Willie Moore, Little Sadie (which Dylan did when he was a lad) and some of his originals which also sound like 19th century Americana ballads, or the music which inspired the country rock of the early 70s.

With simple instrumentation -- guitar, slide, banjo, piano -- and harmony vocals by Jolie Holland this is fascinating stuff.

Graffin isn't always the strongest of singers but he obviously feels these lyrics and, like Richard Thompson and Neil Young for example, transcends his limitations.

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