An Alt-Country Antidote to a Bad Day

Wednesday's Pick

  • Song: "Something Wonderful"
  • Artist: Jon Dee Graham
  • CD: Full
  • Genre: Roots-Rock

In Austin, Tex. — a town full of hotshot instrumentalists and singer-songwriters competing to inherit the halo of the great Townes Van Zandt — being voted "Musician of the Year" by the locals means something. Jon Dee Graham's gravelly voice is perfectly mismatched with his tenderhearted songs, in the process drawing natural comparisons to Tom Waits. Alas, in spite of stints with big names in L.A. and Nashville, Graham has missed out on the national success he deserves.

Jon Dee Graham plays searching, spontaneous, country-tinged rock 'n' roll. Todd Wolfson

Jon Dee Graham plays searching, spontaneous, country-tinged rock 'n' roll. Todd Wolfson hide caption

itoggle caption Todd Wolfson

Though Austin music remains best known as the spiritual ground zero for alt-country, the space Graham inhabits on the new Full leans more toward rock — it's a little more searching and a lot more spontaneous. The album was recorded in two days without much electronic futzing about, and "Something Wonderful" exemplifies that delightful simplicity: It's a deceptively straightforward rocker with few lyrics and a subtly textured and infectious arrangement.

"Something Wonderful" provides a hummable reminder to be on the lookout for the moments of goodness constantly unfolding in coffee shops, on noisy buses, and in airport lounges. Graham doesn't get out of Texas much these days, but that's okay. His latest work travels well.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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