Richard McGraw - Song and Void Vol.1

David Segurola 12/06/2006

Rating: 4/5

Richard McGraw's Song and Void Vol. 1 creaks and meanders with the dark, faceless side of religion intoxicating the mind with false impressions and delusions of grandeur. McGraw's Leonard Cohen inflected acoustic blues carry strong themes of mortality and morality contorted around fierce Catholicism and all the scary-as-shit images the Deep American South horror movies concoct. But, all of the imagery builds to create an album of touching songs weeping heartbreak and escape.

McGraw's work seems intensely personal, as an artist playing out his deepest fears and insecurities. The album opens with, of all things so incredibly offbeat and remote, the line “Glory to God, and all of his children” with a droning double bass, slow drums and McGraw's dry pastor groan. It goes on to blend wickedly dark, slow-moving death throes with other rather more up-beat indulgences in Satan's creations - women, rock and roll, alcohol.

As a piece of music, the funding and effort required to even make the album happen shows Song and Void to be the mission of hardship and endeavour it truly is. Most people would be overblown by McGraw's black imagery of death and loneliness (“This is how I'm going to die/ In a bedroom all alone”) and his spooky sojourns into preacher-esque lessons (“So you want to be a rock star/ Well you're just not that clever”). Richard McGraw's quiet, understated acceptance of mortality makes Song and Void a hidden gem far too many people won't see shine.

Song and Void Vol. 1 is one of those brilliantly intimate and blindingly powerful albums that will always remain ignored by the majority and adored with a passion by an enlightened few.