Jon Dee Graham
Garage Sale (Freedom)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., June 29, 2012
Jon Dee GrahamGarage Sale (Freedom)
With "garage" in the title, Jon Dee Graham's eighth solo disc could be a blast of ruddy-cheeked punk from the Raul's era Skunks guitarist. Instead, he presents a collection unlike anything in his past. Garage Sale is filled with languid moments, potent images, and – since it's Jon Dee Graham, after all – occasional six-string thunder. In retrospect, his last two projects, 2008's It's Not as Bad as It Looks and, playing as the Hobart Brothers with Lil' Sis Hobart (Freedy Johnston, Susan Cowsill), earlier this year on At Least We Have Each Other, pointed the way to the celebrated Austin singer-songwriter opening himself to different textures. Here it's in full bloom on "O Dearest One," an almost-too-cute duet with local songstress Erin Ivey, and the dream pop of "Yes Yes," haunting piano figure included. Near Garage Sale's end, the music indeed pulls into the garage, beginning with the Hawaiian-style steel guitar and vibes instrumental "#19." "Collapse" follows with combustible guitars à la Crazy Horse and the album closes with the unclassifiable yet funky "Radio Uxtmal (Venceremos)," a distant cousin to Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio." Adventurous, confounding, Garage Sale actually explains itself on the opening track, "Unafraid." Over a bed of Sunday morning Booker T. & the MGs-like organ, Graham intones in his gloriously weathered Tom Waits-ian rasp, "I've pulled a thorn from the paw of the lion/And I've snatched the fang from the jaws of the snake" like a man and musician who wears his battle scars unselfconsciously. Once again, JDG has followed his muse to an unexpected plateau.