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Graham | Never, And Maybe Not Even Then (Dreamy)
Something, quite rare in a debut, happens about a minute into this CD and gets you immediately hooked. That rare thing is a good lyric, a story that draws you in and musical accompaniment that lets it breathe. All that, is present in this charmingly assured album from Graham, an English songwriter whose only previous releases include a 7" EP (also on Dreamy) and a couple of compilation appearances (the last CWAS CD included). The first song, the aching title track, unfolds in a rush of double tracked vocals reminiscent of Elliott Smith at his most heartbreaking. Graham has a way of drawing you into the characters that inhabit his songs, using detailed lyrics that are evocative and specific at the same time. Remember It Good has a spoken word intro that recalls the wistful melancholy of The Go-Betweens while As The Time Keeps Ticking By sounds like The Magnetic Fields doing mutated doo-wop. Acoustic guitar and rolling piano keep things nice and subdued until Graham slips in a curveball, the processed vocals and background static of Funny How The Time Keeps Ticking By, for instance, adding to the chill and dislocation of the lyrics, or the pasted-in conversations on The Best Spectacular, a nod to Lou Reed's terrifying Kicks, no doubt. He writes about old girlfriends, lonely winters and the unrequited past as if they were subjects new to rock. He refers to an ex-girlfriend's new wedding ring as "The horror on your left hand" and the songs sound as if they were all written in a small room, staring out the window at a lover leaving in the cold, grey winter morning. This album makes you think of the past, without the sugared nostalgia so often present in today's music; a thoroughly refreshing and enjoyable record with a core of burning sadness.
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001