Jon Dee Graham

Record review

Texas Platters

Jon Dee Graham

Full (Freedom)

Jon Dee Graham's a notoriously fire and brimstone kind of guy, so it's no surprise Full boasts more references to thick smoke and heavy rains than a homeowner's insurance policy. And yet, the twisted beauty of this South Austin fixture's fifth album is that it's both his darkest and most optimistic. It's a set where deadly low-water crossings ("Swept Away") saddle up to fortune-cookie giddiness ("Something Wonderful") and where even his shadiest characters are just a woman's touch away from salvation. Take "Remain," it's Full's warmest ballad, but pretty it ain't: "Cigarette ash everywhere/I'm already gone, even when I'm there." There are tunes for pallbearers and partiers, and more often than not, they're the same ones; these are songs built around characters and relationships so bad off things can only get better. While Full is a songwriter's album through and through, just as vital to its success is Graham's performance. There's not a clever guitar solo shoehorned in for clever's sake, and where his nicotine-stained voice was once a liability, here its subtle highs and lows gouge as deep as the words he's written. Full isn't a bad title for an LP that runneth over with songs so memorable and smart, but when you consider just how much gravity they carry and how high they're stacked, Jon Dee Graham's Greatest Hits might have worked just as well.


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
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Andy Langer
Margaret Moser Tribute: Jimmie Vaughan
Jimmie Vaughan
“Everything back then felt like us versus them – and she was one of us”

June 30, 2017

Margaret Moser Tribute: Chris Layton
Chris Layton
Antone’s, 1979: Hurricane Margaret blows in

June 30, 2017


Jon Dee Graham

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

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