|Photo by Ross Wright
Today we've got an exclusive premiere of a live video from Virginia-based singer-songwriter Graham Stone, who is set to release his sophomore LP Bad News on April 12th.
"Little White Lines," a song too new to have made the cut for Bad News, is a rootsy, upbeat folk song about the life of a troubadour--living life on the road, with no pass-time beyond staring at the "little white lines" in between the lanes. The live video shows Stone performing solo acoustic at beloved Richmond, Va. club The Camel, allowing the lyrics to shine through in a stripped-down setting.
Graham has an expressive, open-throated delivery that brings the emotion and the story to life. The song itself has a quickly delivered, almost talk-singing verse that brings to mind other road tunes like Cash's "I've Been Everywhere." It's a memorable tune and a great introduction to anyone who hasn't heard Stone's music before. RIYL: Tyler Childers, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Brent Cobb, Chuck Ragan, John Moreland, John Prine
From Stone: "This is a highway song for sure, a tune from the road. I wrote this one while driving the Pennsylvania Turnpike up to Michigan through a blizzard to see my daughter. This song was written during and about a specific trip, but it's also somehow kind of about all the other trips just like that one that I had done before. Usually alone but sometimes with friends or one of my brothers. Staying in hotels, listening to Ray Charles, drinking bourbon in dive bars, smoking cigarettes to stay awake. I just remember feeling like it would never end. Like I'd always be doing it this way even though I didn't really want to. The chorus of the song talks about the highway just sort of running on forever but by the very end I'm swearing it all off again. No more hotels, motels and little white lines."
You'll find a bio and more information below the player.
Graham Stone - Bad News
You can’t turn on the television or flick through your social feeds without being bombarded with bad news. “It’s like the whole world’s got the blues,” Americana singer-songwriter Graham Stone feels that lyric in his bones, it’s an apt summation of his new album, Bad News (out April 12th). Still, somehow he manages to provide hope and spread compassion through warm guitar chords and a voice as smooth as your favorite whiskey, but that doesn’t mean he won't raise a little hell along the way.
Drawing heartfelt lines through the American South, Stone is a razor-sharp firebrand. He plants his feet at the center of the raging storm and accepts the elements in order to engage the humanity and tragedy buried beneath. That common thread echoes in every corner of the record, from the cautionary tale of “Oh Hell,” to the quaking bristle of “Celebrate.”
Stone doesn’t carry a chip on his shoulder, but there is an unmistakable air of honesty and determination in his lyrics. “Nobody knows what this life holds / But I guess maybe it’s better that way,” he sings on the urgent, enveloping “Fighting For,” a song with a driving force that sees Graham singing to his infant son. He doesn’t take his responsibility of parenthood lightly and his teachings of kindness and strength soak each moment to the core.
His ripened wisdom is owed in large part to his humble beginnings. Born in Virginia in 1987, his fondest childhood memories are from the years his family spent living in Newport, NC, before eventually moving back home and settling down in Sudley, Virginia, on the banks of the Bull Run tributary near Manassas in Prince William County. He comes from a large family -- he’s one of seven children -- and a culture of loving music. His father often plucked out blues tunes on guitar or bluegrass numbers on the banjo and equipped Graham with an appreciation for instrumentation. “I also think I may have accidentally crushed his banjo by sitting on it as a kid,” he reminisces with a smirk. “I still kind of feel bad about that.”
By the time he entered his teens, Graham had developed an affinity for playing on his grandmother’s guitar. “I don’t know if she ever even really played it,” he corrects, noting his grandfather bought it "for her" really so he could try and do some finger-picking of his own. “But I think because my dad was the most serious guitar player in the family, somehow it ended up at our house.”
Through the years, Graham has played in various musical collectives. After a few unnamed punk bands in high school, he played in a collective in Washington, DC with friends called The Storytellers and then in a family band called Karla and the Brotherhood with his sister and a couple brothers. After moving to Richmond in 2014, Graham began to play out at local watering holes alongside his wife and fellow music-maker Aubrey (who predominantly plays the mandolin) as a duo called The Whiskey Wells.
But it wasn't until 2017, with his 30th birthday looming that Graham gathered up a collection of original songs for his debut solo record, Until the Day. “It was really just a bucket list thing I wanted to do at the time,” he says of the album, which arrived to astounding regional success and launched him headlong into the local music community just six months before the birth of his son. Afterwards, his life came into clearer focus and setting one foot in front of the other, he embarked more seriously on a path towards making music full time.
Now, armed with a clear vision and a brand new record in Bad News, Stone seeks to encourage the world-weary and reaches new levels of rumbling, gritty and plain-as-day Americana glory along the way. “This is also the first album I’ve recorded with what felt more like a cohesive band,” he says. Following a gig at FloydFest last summer, the troupe of musicians headed into the studio, already wearing the songs on their sleeves. "That gives the record a really cool cohesion, moving us closer towards what I imagine a totally live studio album might feel like,” he explains of the process, which began with Graham laying down guitar and vocals before bringing in the rest of the band for a live session together to capture the backbone instrumentation before adding the final sonic layers.
Bad News, which feels as earthy as it does polished, gives the listener plenty of room to breathe and allows each song to flourish on its own. Between crashing waves of rock & roll, the blues, folk storytelling and the telltale twang of the dobro--this record captures the best of everything Stone has to offer. He puts his all into his craft and unleashes onto the world an astute and necessary reflection of how we, as human beings, might engage with this world in a more honest and hopeful way. If we listen closely enough, we might come to understand more about who we are and perhaps in so doing, find out more of who we are meant to become together.