It only takes a couple of songs on Jon Dee Graham's latest album, Full, to realize he's quite earnest about his music. Even on a song with a title like "Something Wonderful," he sounds deadly serious, delivering his gruff, Tom Waits-meets-alternative country-vocal behind stinging electric guitar and a pounding bass. Yes, he ensures us that something very wonderful is going to happen, and perhaps means it, but the music never sells this careless, joyful mood. Graham is joined by bassist Andrew DuPlantis, guitarist Michael Hardwick, and drummer John Chipman on a dozen self-penned songs. Even with four pieces, the arrangements provide a thick, heavy alternative country soundscape that serves Graham's resonant sandpaper vocals well. There are quiet acoustic moments, as with "O Dearest One," and quieter electric ones, as with the relaxed "Rosewood," and while these are but mere pauses to more dirty rockin', they should be commended for allowing the music to breath a bit. Graham's appeal is his authenticity, that -- as his press bio states -- he "bears scars," and how much a listener enjoys him will be dependent on how much he or she buys into his tortured artist persona. For Graham's old fans, however, Full's angst-filled vision will be warmly embraced as the real deal.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.