Jon Dee Graham

Escape From Monster Island (New West)

Texas Platters

"I wish I was clever enough to invent characters that never existed, doing things that never happened," admitted Jon Dee Graham to Texas Monthly in 2012. "But I'm not. The songs are how I work things out." At the time of his solo debut – after two decades being Everyone Else's Guitar Hero (Skunks, True Believers, John Doe, Kelly Willis) – the journeyman Austin rocker was working out the dissolution of his marriage to Sally Norvell and sending first son Roy back to his mother after having custody. As he intones on "Kings" in his manicured Tom Waits rasp: "Well, having a child takes the paint right off a man." Throughout the album, finally on vinyl, Graham rips Band-Aids right off his throbbing nerves. Spanning country ("Mockingbird Smile"), heartland rock ("Soonday"), and folk (take your pick), his naked bow serves as a delivery system for what's characterized on "When a Woman Cries" as "sorry words from a sorry man/ The sorriest words I think I can stand." Cut at the Hit Shack with then-Charlie Sexton Sextet rhythm section George Reiff and Rafael Gayol, guitar support from co-producer Mike Hardwick, and another ex in Kathy McCarty on occasional harmonies, Escape From Monster Island is a painfully intimate exercise in self-therapy.

****

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 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  

READ MORE
More Jon Dee Graham
Margaret Moser Tribute: Jon Dee Graham
Jon Dee Graham
A champion of Austin music – and Austin music writers

William Harries Graham, June 30, 2017

Texas Platters
Love Notes From the Bear
Austin's big brown bear of a singer-songwriter-Stratocaster, Jon Dee Graham, doodles his wife, real-life concerns, and ardor

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 12, 2016

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Kevin Welch
Dust Devil (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, Dec. 14, 2018

Texas Platters
Kendall Beard
Here Comes Trouble (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, Dec. 14, 2018

More by Tim Stegall
Top 10 Box Sets of 2018
Joe Strummer
Joe Strummer 001 (Record Review)

Dec. 7, 2018

Top 10 Box Sets of 2018
Tom Petty
An American Treasure (Record Review)

Dec. 7, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Jon Dee Graham

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
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

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

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