American folk duo The Grahams have spent much of their lives exploring music together. Their first song-crafting expedition, along the Mississippi's Great River Road, became their 2013 debut, Riverman's Daughter. For its follow-up, Glory Bound, they rode the rails - and wound up recording not only a studio album, but a documentary and live album on the move and in venues from Sun Studio to Amtrak's famed City of New Orleans train.
Their new long-player was helmed by Grammy nominated producer Wes Sharon (John Fullbright, Parker Millsap) at his 115 Recording studio in Norman, Okla., and was released on May 19. Recording in Oklahoma holds special significance for a couple raised as Dylan-loving New York City suburban kids who spent weekends strumming campfire songs in the Adirondacks. Like many Dylan fans, they traced their way back to his greatest inspiration.
The Grahams' songs for these projects, often co-written with collaborator-since-childhood Bryan McCann, capture the rhythms and energies of that transport system and the momentum of its time, While offering the listener a big range and a storyteller's delivery.
That's another element of these collections that distinguishes them from mere historical repetition. "We're still our own artists; we're still living in the modern era," Doug explains. "We say in the film, and it's really true, we're not trying to re-create anything, we're trying to let the echoes ring in our ears."
"Even when we were in the studio with Wes, doing this very traditional kind of recording, a few local musicians stopped by and we were like, 'Hey, we've got these people here we've never met before who sing and play music. Let's do something together right now,'" Doug recalls.
"For us, making music is sort of whimsical," Alyssa notes. "We're not precious about anything."