Graham MacRae

Graham MacRae

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On his debut album, Graham MacRae aims for the slightly craggily voiced, "live on the back porch" feeling of acoustic and electric blues/folk/rock & roll -- if such a genre exists, or even if it doesn't. He does a good if not necessarily remarkable job; more than anything else his brief album shows he has a good feel for this kind of material, yet isn't at the point where he makes a fully individual impression with it. Strong points include his low but not dour singing voice, which balances off warmth and a yearning wistfulness (most apparent on "Hollywood") with a shadowy edge and more often than not suggests he loves his Michael Gira-related albums ("Future Days," with its clattering percussion, is closer to some of the Angels of Light' work than might initially be thought), and his deft acoustic guitar work, which is accomplished enough and nicely balanced out by the backing performances in turn. Moments like the wordless cries at the midpoint of "Who Will You Be Talking To?" are calmly unsettling, while the sweet instrumental "Wedding Wind," placed at the middle of the album, offers up a straightforward and welcome chance to chase some of the storm clouds away, just enough. The best song might be "Voice and Guitar," which is a paean to the power of art via that approach which, perhaps appropriately in a contrarian vein, includes a sharp guest drum appearance from Lee LaDouceur. The end result -- a throbbing, tense performance that seems to get even more so as the song progresses (while still showing some of MacRae's most delicate work on guitar) -- is a good possible signpost for his future work.

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