Record of the Month: Richard McGraw

by | Mar 21, 2012 | Reviews

Richard McGraw

Popular Music

New York, NY

“A dark and mysterious romance with Leonard Cohen, Lady Gaga and the Who”

Popular Music, Richard McGraw’s third release, offers an unrecognizable – yet harmonious – palate of songs that have influenced the high-tier songwriter. McGraw treats each cover to his urban growl, solemn guitar and softened-by-chamber orchestration. A comparison impossible to avoid is with McGraw’s majesty, Leonard Cohen, and early, pre-dark carnival era Tom Waits.

The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” a rock n’ roll anthem that endures and emboldens each budding generation, is slowed to a beleaguered murmur – drawn and pulled along by gentle strings and McGraw’s plucking fingers. McGraw, in a near-conversational snarl, repeating like a distressing anti-anthem, “Don’t you cry / Don’t even raise your eye / It’s only teenage wasteland / Teenage wasteland.”

Another sparkling gem is Lita Ford’s “Kiss Me Deadly,” featuring radio-friendly listenability. McGraw raises the tempo, infuses percussion and female harmonization; it’s one of the most resilient covers and demonstrates McGraw’s songwriter competency – his versatility is an asset. The signature protagonist on Popular Music is McGraw’s voice; the album would suffer if his tone didn’t reinterpret the meanings, rather than simply paying homage. McGraw breathes new life, vigor and pain into some of America’s most enduring cultural bloodlines. (Self-released)

Mixed by Zach McNees

Mastered at Stadium Red, NY by Ricardo Gutierrez

Produced by Alexander Foote