November 22, 2003

Graham Lindsey "Famous Anonymous Wilderness"

Remember Old Skull? In the late 80s, they were a group of younguns (none above the age of ten) who were said to be the 'world's youngest punk band,' and legend has it that they broke up when one of the members was grounded for a month. Seriously, I'm not making this up! At the time, Old Skull were viewed with a mighty hefty grain o'salt. Anyway, the point of that brief history lesson is to inform you that Graham Lindsey was one of those Old Skull kids, and now he's grown up and has made a most impressive debut album, Famous Anonymous Wilderness.

If you're expecting the Punk Rawk Rumble of Old Skull, you're gonna be disappointed. Well, not really, because this album's better than all of that. He's traded in his Doc Martens for some Justins, and he's making music that's a lot earthier. That doesn't mean it's prettier, because there's a road-weary vibe to Famous Anonymous Wilderness that most of your other singer/songwriter types could only dream of having. Lindsey really really REALLY reminds me of Bob Dylan's best years--the years he was a great songwriter and not a parody of what Dylan used to be.

Lindsey pretty much sets the tone of the album with the down and out ballad "Hutch Jack Flats Rag," His voice--sounding like a perfect replication of Dylan circa The Times They Are A-Changin', but with a little more country slant. But don't think that Lindsey's just a feller with a guitar and a harmonica, because he's not. He does have a good little backing band; they're pretty rocking on "Emma Rumble" and "My Museum Blues." On songs like "Dead Man's Waltz" and "I Won't Let You Down," he wins points for excellent use of the one instrument I love to hear: pedal steel. All of these songs are sung with an edge of experience; sure, he's a young fellow, but just look into those eyes of his: if the eyes are the mirror of the soul, you quickly realize that in Lindsey's case, it's not the age, it's the mileage.

While a mixture of country/folk music and punk rock might seem to be a novelty to some, and it might be just an extention of that whole 'emo' thing to others, but Graham Lindsey's the real deal. His songs echo through the soul and his voice rings true, and as you listen, you'll find yourself nodding your head and thinkin', "yeah, I know what you mean, son." Ulitmately, though, what is it that makes Famous Anonymous Wilderness such a rewarding find? It's simple, really: No bullshit, no pretension, and honest songwriting.

And what did you say were the distinctions between punk and country?

--Joseph Kyle

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