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Greg Graffin
Cold As The Clay
Anti- Records
www.epitaph.com/artists/artist/217


Greg Graffin is a doctor in evolutionary paleontology, but the man obviously has a large amount of experience with the traditional musical cultures of rural America. In addition to being a gifted songwriter and singer in punk stalwarts Bad Religion, Graffin has taken the time to record an acoustic album consisting of folk tunes, both traditional songs and some of his own compositions. Greg Graffin has put together a record full of songs that have an intimate power, similar to the raw edge in early Bad Religion, that will appeal to not only previous fans of his, but also to listeners of rural Americana, as well.

The album starts off with a Graffin composition titled "Don't Be Afraid To Run" that encapsulates all that is great about the record. In many ways, the song reminds immediately of BR, but the harmonica and banjo set the mood a bit towards the earthier side. Graffin does a tremendous job of relating the horrible story of "Omie Wise", which is true Americana at its finest. His delivery is filled with a rich depth that belies the simplicity of the song, and earns Graffin huge points for roots traditionalism. "Cold As The Clay" builds in falling guitar slides and a more Southern Appalachian attitude, brilliantly highlighting the raw earthiness of Graffin's delivery. Labelmate Jolie Holland joins in on this track, as well as a few others, lending her own gravelly voice in superior harmony. Likewise, Greg's take on the old timey "Little Sadie" is wonderful, filled with rollicking banjo rolls and a keen sense of what the song is meant to convey, both in words and sense. The Frazier/Montgomery composition "California Cotton Fields" is a highlight of the record, with Graffin's voice blending precisely with Jolie Holland's while the banjo rolls along blithely, telling such a disheartening story.

While my friends and I have certainly sat around an evening slamming out old Bad Religion songs on acoustic guitars and seeing the connection ourselves, it is wonderful to get the chance to hear Greg Graffin turning out some acoustic songs of his own. While the songs that he wrote sound mostly like more intimate and acoustic BR tracks, his takes on a few traditional songs makes this record a must have for most anyone. Graffin is a talented singer, and on Cold As The Clay his voice is resplendent and deep, echoing the sentiments that so many of these songs were written to portray. Anyone who has ever doubted the tremendous depth of Graffin's roots need only take one listen to this fine collection of songs. A new essential piece of alt-Americana has been added to the world's collection. Make it part of your own.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. Don't Be Afraid To Run
2. Omie Wise
3. Cold As The Clay
4. Little Sadie
5. Highway
6. Rebel's Goodbye
7. Talk About Suffering
8. Willie Moore
9. California Cotton Fields
10. The Watchmaker's Dial
11. One More Hill


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