Richard McGraw
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Richard McGraw

Band Rock Singer/Songwriter


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The best kept secret in music


"Performing Songwriter"

The mournful “Butter Hill” kicks off the latest release from Richard McGraw. With a voice that’s part Lyle Lovett, part Tom Waits, McGraw tells us how “Truth is a light that I could not handle / With my can of Hamm’s I started that ritual.” Hammond organ and a slow, backbeat-heavy snare keep the time.

The record is a true masterpiece, and each song sheds light on a different aspect of the human element. McGraw boldly romps through the piano-laden, teenage angst of “Natasha in High School” (“I dream of Natasha in high school, and all the blood flows to my head / Filled with all the stupid things I said”). He folds his hands over the whispered prayer of “Find Me Then” (“What life is left for me / In the love of my country and the hate of its men?”). He cries above the apocolyptic electric guitars in “Death Is Not Peace.” There’s a sense of tortured darkness on Song and Void, but McGraw expertly navigates the waters of our communal subconscious, showing us the beauty in even our bleakest moments.
- Mare Wakefield

"One Time One"

The first outstanding thing you will notice about this album is the exquisite packaging. It is appropriate for the contents, for they are both ornate in their simplicity. The music will pick at the yolk of your psyche by reminding you of the fears, inadequate feelings, frustration, and joys of everyday life. It does not bother to include the rest of the world, instead it keeps it very personal, sticking to subjects that are universally personal. These are the songs we have all wanted to write while staring at a lone cloud in quiet reflection and speculation on the past and of the future. The lyrical style of Richard McGraw is a unique blend of Leonard Cohen and Conway Savage, which is a huge complement to Mr. McGraw. It is very up-close and personal, as if he were in the room with you and speaking directly to you about your own past, the anxiety of mortality, and how or even if (gasp) you will be memorialized. Another complement was given to Mr. McGraw by the John Lennon songwriting contest in 2003 where he was a finalist. Though most of this album was recorded in one or two takes back in the winter of 2004, it sounds as if it was done a thousand times to get that perfect feeling in the voice, to emote just how genuine these songs are. The songs were refined for over a year, and when the money ran out, the album was declared complete. Thank God the money ran out. It would be a shame to miss out on this working class hero's labor of love, because it is so genuine, and pure. Musicians of this caliber need to be supported by lovers of music to show them that what they do matters, and we need more like them. -Jason Hall 05/01/06 -

"anti music 5 stars"

"We are nearly halfway through 2006,
and Song and Void is the best album to be released." -

"Big O review"

Was singer-songwriter Richard McGraw ever a Catholic altar boy? His combination of Nick Cave's religiosity and Leonard Cohen's sensuality sure qualifies him. The gospel-tinged Butter Hill has McGraw declaring himself as the "holiest of them" and in the next verse, he confesses that he "loved her breast, her face and her laughter on Butter Hill."
McGraw's desperation is belied by a certain jauntiness and Natasha in High School is everything that you cannot hear in a pop song on radio today - wicked, original humour ("Then there was the kitchen pantries/ panties, flowered lovely for me"), an eccentric wit ("And all of the egos and the ids/laugh at all the stupid things I did") and real love ("And how could it be that/you'd give me your virginity/and I would let you go/on account of bad chemistry"). In a normal sane world, this would be number one with a bullet.

McGraw has taste. Butter Hill features Van-Morrison guitarist, John Platania. And he doesn't hide. After the songs, there is the void. Find Me Then, the third number after two rousing tracks, is a cry of defeat: "Oh dear lord I'm losing again/My body is tired so are these plans/I would like to buy a neck tie/For every dream I cannot defend". John Platania returns on Death Is Not Peace to whip up some drive into McGraw's hopelessness "I think I see a tunnel/I think I hear a train". The songs maintain their tenderness, anger, worry and desperate cries to God throughout. Recorded in 2004 in mostly single takes, mounting debt prevented its release until last month. In the pantheon of desperate, funny, loser singer-songwriters, please welcome Richard McGraw! - (7.5) Philip Cheah - Big O

" review"

Richard McGraw is a singer-songwriter in the way that I like. Anxious, nervous and a little disturbed sounding. All these songs were recorded with his band in the space of one weekend. I like his style, as the limitations of such a fast recording has done everything to capture the energy levels, which for a largely acoustic based album are near through the roof. When a distorted guitar breaks through on fourth track Death is Not Peace its like a glass against the wall at an uncomfortable dinner.
Vocally McGraw is a blend of Bonnie Prince Billy, Bryan Ferry and Violent Femmes Gordon Gano. In fact Violent Femmes is a very fair reference point as like the Femmes, this is acoustic music with energy and also lyrically it shares Ganos penchant for sounding well, anxious, nervous and a little disturbed sounding.
Lyrically McGraw is frequently exceptional. He covers inadequacy, (I didnt make out brother, till I was fucking 99), mortality, (This is how Im going to die in a bedroom all on my own) and the solitude and loneliness of a failed career as a musician, (Youre at home with all your needs in the basement of your Mother, keeping quiet so she can sleep. Of all of those dreams one could choose, theres one that will place you on display if you lose. Find yourself there, long-haired, 45, rockin out the county fayre). Its safe to say, just like Jarvis Cocker, Richard McGraw is a man well acquainted with The Fear. Hes also well acquainted with what it takes to make a great record. Whether he ends up at in his Mothers basement is up to you, but if this is what it takes to get precisely nowhere then we might as well turn the lights out now.
-Andrew Bennett -

" -5 stars"

Fans of Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Peter Mulvey and David Gray will never forget the day they first heard Richard McGraw. With that tossed-around, strained and thrashed voice tainted with whiskey and smoke-filled dive bars, laced with desperation and hopelessness, these songs are backed by an assortment of carefully chosen instruments like accordion, guitar, piano and full-on rock band.
"Song & Void Vol. 1" satisfies some deep need in the soul's ears for
passionate songwriting and fully-committed emotion. Every track, from one to thirteen, is a world in and of itself. This here is one great
disc. - cdbaby

"rock city review"

Richard McGraw - Song and Void Volume 1

This album is something pretty special from the packaging inwards. The plate-style illustration of Richard Mcgraw as a statue in his suit and sandles, the lyric booklet that hides the lyrics to the last song, The Many on the back and the place inside to place a photo of the CDs owner and a place to write that This album belongs to all in a clerical white case kind of announces it as something of value but the number 76 to the left of the illustration of his face and the space on the right to write in the year he finally dies gives the tinyest clue that theres a darkness inside.

This album is beautiful in many ways but it is also a dark and emotionally darkening journey. I dont mean like all of that sad music that is really a warm wallow in the misfortunes of others that, if you feel it, makes you realise your unhappiness is shared, this music will bring you down. Like Tom Waits, Richard Mcgraw is often singing to a third party in the songs and you cant work out if hes describing his own hurdles in this world from the outside or has a cast of characters battling with theirs. Death is a huge character on the album, This is how Im going to die in a field of daisies/this is how Im going to die in a bedroom on my own but before that there is the most devastatingly lamented loss of love from years ago in are you still, theres the battle of faith in Hopefully, theres regret, frustration, unhappiness, loss, the release of death and an almost unhealthy preoccupation with school as a spectre and women as bitter experiences causing scarring memories. God is a character who he is in dialogue with, without any obvious irony but with resignation.

The voice is that of a man facing the end of his life but Richard Mcgraw, is thirty years old. His narrator, if he doesnt sing as himself is a darkly introspective character, far more connected to the human soul than say the transparently arrogant Will Oldham and like Gordon Gano from Violent Femmes you appreciate the fact that he can wear his heart on his sleeve but you suspect you dont like him and are damn glad not to be him.

It sounds amazing, beautiful folk, country and gospel fuelled songs recorded in a couple of takes with guitar, piano, accordion, double bass, trumpet and the most acoustically real drum sound since Steve Albini recorded Ocean songs for the Dirty Three, playing military fills from time to time. Electric guitars are used sparingly except on Death is not Peace where it crashes in like the Bad Seeds before cutting to a lone piano. He sounds deceptively older Like William E Whitmore does but its a clean, pious voice which instead of giving the impression that he is railing against tribulations makes him seem to be barely surviving them.

The quote from Earnest Becker, at the end of the booklet reads This is the terror. To have emerged from nothing to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self expression and with all this yet to die and it pitches the emotional impact of this album perfectly. But for all its melancholy, its a rewarding journey and Im going to write my name in the front, stick my picture in there and whenever I feel emotionally robust enough take it out.

Posted by AlMachine on Friday, June 2, 2006 -

"smother magazine"

Sounding like a bunch of old ‘78s and ‘45s mixed together, “Song and Void” jumps ship from Brit-pop to ‘60’s psych pop to hipster folk rock. He has an interesting voice that feels, really really feels, his lyrics. That lyrical twist that he boasts is rangy and well versed, seeming to tell your own tale without letting you in on the secret. Melancholy blends into fistfuls of rage and then pours honey on wounds with sweet pop. It’s different that’s for sure. - smother magazine

"75 or less"

An heir to Lyle Lovett and Richard Thompson, Richard McGraw sings of loss and resentment over a variety of musical moods; they range from sorrowful swing to rolling accordion to epic rock guitar. His voice shifts from plaintive to fierce; at one point, he declares, "If I have to kill to keep you safe, point to the man and I will plan his end." With his unique, sometimes antique, always unpredictable sound, I predict McGraw will get much further in his career than "long-haired, 45 and still rockin out at the county fair." - 75 or less


Her Sacred Status, My Militant Needs 2001
Song and Void Volume 1 2006


Feeling a bit camera shy


Born into the middle class;
The public school education;
The philosophy degree;
The mild zen training;
The lyrical school of Leonard Cohen;
The first album: Her Sacred Status My Militant Needs;
The afternoon playing songs for
Rick Rubin in his hotel room;
John lennon songwriting contest finalist 2003;
The second album: Song and Void Vol.1
A working class hero living in Astoria NY.

Most of the songs on this album were recorded with the band in one or two takes during a weekend session in the winter of 2004.

Over a year later, massive debt accrued, and no more funds to refine the project, the album was declared complete.