Photos by Brian Bongo Davis
On the final night, closing a three week tour of the UK, Nashville-based New York duo Alyssa and Doug Graham turned in an excellent, full-tilt set to a packed house in central London. Drawing from material from both of their released albums, they also ventured into new territory with a snatch from the next release to be launched later this year, a tempter that should help increase their growing fan base and album sales.
This is a band with energy and soaring, searing vocals, melodies and harmonies always taking front-stage as their fretwork punches along. On tour they were joined by a couple of buddies on drums and bass, giving the band a fully rounded sound and strength. Much of the set featured cuts from their current release, Glory Bound, an album recorded mostly on the move while they travelled the US finding inspiration in the role of the railroad and its place central to migratory movement and musical dispersion and development. This is an album—recorded in such diverse places as the Memphis Sun studio and the rattling railcars of the City of New Orleans—that was released simultaneously alongside a short movie feature covering that same subject, and which was also aired as an opener in London, Rattle the Hocks.
A few tracks from their 2013, debut release, Riverman’s Daughter, pretty well made up the set and rippled with what they themselves have branded as “modern echoes.” This is a duo with a strong, refreshing sense of place and purpose and time. From Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, they draw upon the art of the modern US song-writing tradition of storytelling and spotlighting central recurring political and economic themes. Glory Bound itself is an album I particularly enjoyed on its release, so it was a genuine pleasure to discover that this Americana band is every bit as good as it gets and, believe me, that Alyssa Graham can sure sing some.