Robert Graham: Storm In A Teacup

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Independent


This album’s sunny disposition makes for a nice fit with the Spring-ish weather currently in fashion. On this debut outing, singing piano man Graham, a transplanted Aussie now based in rural Ontario offers up 10 doses of tight, incisive pop rock, with some on the sunny side, some on the bittersweet.


Well schooled in narrative song writing as befitting a man who’s scored an Honourable Mention in the 2010 Billboard world song contest, Graham’s crafty about making his points without sticking them in your eye. He avoids sounding like generic pop by not so much bending the elements of the formula as blending them into catchy combinations.


That card’s dropped right off the top by opening the album with Gershwin’s melancholy ‘Blue Lullaby’, suggesting late late night’s slow drift into the jaunty early morning brightness of ‘Reaching You’


No great vocal heights scaled but the pipes do have the immense likeability of a fun loving pal or well-worn sweater. Graham makes a bigger impact when he goes a little harder, especially when the piece throws electric guitar into the attack. On that front, he gets stellar contribution from Teddy Kumpel, Dan Charbonneau and Eric ‘Da Doctah’ Schenkman, who collectively set fire to the funkalicious ‘In Love with a Girl’ and the fiery  ‘Living in a Coma’.


Recorded at Brown’s Post Office Studio with Chris Brown producing resulted in an underlying lushness on even the sparest tracks. Graham’s work on the keys brings traces of vintage r’n’b into the pop rock mix so smoothly it never sticks out or comes over contrived.


One small oddity, the inclusion of another introspective Gershwin piano piece of even longer duration bleeds off the momentum established up to that point, especially coming after the wailing ‘In Love With a Girl’. The album closer, an Afro-Astro mix of ‘Set It Free’ as swing-assed rhythmic as the title implies,  goes a long way towards bringing the energy level back up.


Overall, there’s enough here to build an audience, enough to entice new ears and with enough promise of mo’ and better things to come. One of which is already out there. Graham recently posted the first single ‘Believe in Love’ from an upcoming album. It’s a nice mix of vintage and contemporary pop and can be heard at  www.robertgraham.org


James Lizzard