Graham – Never, and Maybe Not Even Then

Never, and Maybe Not Even Then

Graham is a UK-based singer/songwriter who takes the solo musician with an acoustic guitar motif a little differently. Although he started with an acoustic guitar, matched nicely with his extremely calming, smooth vocals, he found his true love in an organ, and thus each of the 11 songs on this, his debut full-length, are filled with keyboard/organ.
The result puts Graham somewhere between pop and lounge, oddly enough, and even odder is the fact that it works. Giving a nod to artists like Momus and retro-hipster Tuesday Weld, Graham’s music is quirky in its organ obsession but undeniably based in lovely pop. The melodies here are so pleasurable and the pace so relaxed, the songs themselves drip like honey, which makes this one sweet album.
The title track opens and immediately reminds me of a slightly more bouncy Arco, quiet and subdued but possessing that playful organ. The light “Remember It Good” starts out with someone talking way in the background and breaks into the softest and loveliest pop song, melodious and almost sugary sweet. There’s a very dark feel to “Funny How the Time Keeps Ticking By,” and here piano is used instead of organ for a nice effect. Again piano takes the lead on “Last Christmas,” a song that vaguely reminds me of some of Nick Drake’s more melodious songs. “The Best Spectacular” mixes quiet, laid-back singing, so beautiful and soft, with these spoken vocals in a way that astounds me every time I hear it. Very well done.
Graham goes back to his roots on “Skywriter,” a song that is mostly his silky-smooth vocals and acoustic guitar, the vocals keeping it from feeling like a folk-style song. Even softer and lovelier, “All You Got Was Summertime” is my favorite here, filled with gorgeous acoustic guitar and extremely soft keyboards, it has more of a folk feel but succeeds better than any song on the album at conveying a quiet, contemplative mood. It’s odd to hear Graham sing the lyrics “So put on your smiling eyes and fuck you, cuz we’re all going to say goodbye. And all you got was summertime” in that gorgeous voice of his, almost disconcerting.
If there’s a fault here, it’s that Graham at times tends to get too loungy. You can almost see him crooning into a microphone on the soft “As the Time Keeps Ticking By,” which is leant that loungy feel by those brush drums and back-up vocals. And “Thirteen Tims Alone” plays out almost melodramatic at times.
I believe the organ-based style of pop that Graham plays is targeted to a particular audience. It’s the kind of stuff that has to grow on you, and I didn’t fully appreciate this album until I listened to it on a slow, rainy summer day. Suddenly, the quiet yet pretty feel jived with me, and I fell in love a little with Never, and Maybe Not Even Then. Soft and pretty and poppy, it’s a quiet album that deserves as many listens as you can give it.