Jon Dee Graham

Texas platters

Phases and Stages

Jon Dee Graham

The Great Battle (New West)

On a rebellious whim in the Seventies, my grandfather built a beach house on Galveston Island. It was a shack. The slats on the deck splintered and creaked, the furniture smelled like mildew, and the rooms were layered with smoke. I loved it. My dad would spin Bruce Springsteen on the ancient turntable, crackling the speakers and pissing off my grandfather. Bonnie Raitt sang me to sleep and cooled my blistering sunburns. When my grandfather died, the house was sold, and I was distraught. Since then, my memories have begun to fade. With the opening notes of Jon Dee Graham's fourth solo epic, The Great Battle, they all came flooding back. That gravel voice and powerful projection strike all the boss chords, and the blues riffs and pedal steel bring Bonnie on home. The Great Battle is more than familiar. A master songwriter and guitarist, Graham has created in Battle a tale of truth and hope. "Twilight" celebrates new beginnings, while the titular track – and Patty Griffin collaboration – pulls joy and optimism out of just breathing and being still. The motivation of a "Robot Moving": "Everybody says put one foot in front of the other. 'Course the irony is that's the only way feet work. What luck." Songs of change, consequence, and life; not poems, not lyrical achievements, honesty. Through blues and country and back to his roots in rock, the Skunks and True Believers, Graham has weathered the storm and become all the wiser for it. After his version of Neil Young's "Harvest," it's clear Graham is on his way to a similar clearing. Every track more impressive than the last, The Great Battle has been fought and conquered by our knight in rusty armor.***.5

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Review: Holy Wave, <i>Five of Cups</i>
Review: Holy Wave, Five of Cups
Five of Cups (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 1, 2023

Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, <i>Emergency Leisure</i>
Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, Emergency Leisure
Emergency Leisure (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Aug. 4, 2023

More by Darcie Stevens
Phases & Stages
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
It's Blitz! (Record Review)

April 3, 2009

Spotlight: The Wooden Birds
Spotlight: The Wooden Birds
9pm, the Parish

March 20, 2009


Jon Dee Graham

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle