Graham Stone Music: Album of the Month

Until the Day

I can't remember the last time I was so bowled over a by a debut release. Graham Stone Music is the performing nom de guerre of Graham McCune Stoll, a young man who hails from Virginia and dispenses insights and wisdom like an old sage. Until the Day is one of those rare albums where you listen to a track and exclaim, "Man, that's one helluva song," and the next one makes you repeat yourself. And the one after that, and….

Stoll's husky baritone immediately puts one in mind of Ari Heist, but Stoll's songs come from the road, not the urban canyons of New York City. "Flowers of Montana" is a gorgeous song. Stool is named for Gram Parsons, who would have been proud to have penned lines like But the flowers in Montana all are bloomin'/And the river by the mountain/is clear and cold/And the flower on my arm will stay forever/ I’m not a young man, but I’ve never felt so old. If it doesn't look like much on the page, listen to the song and ask yourself how a guy barely 30 can write such a line and sing it with such wizened grace. Next, take Stoll's folk persona, add some buzzy electric, head for the open Big Sky lands, and check out "Canyonlands." Pack some sweet country and hop a "Midnight Train" bound for Boston, once the lost rambling is over. Lace the song with thoughts of a woman somewhere along the line. If "Strong Constitution" is to be believed, Stoll likes his women strong and independent. The heroine of this folk country tale shows no fear: She's got a strong constitution/steel in her spine/A spirit more precious than jewels/ She's got a strong constitution/She's made up her mind/She won't take no shit from a fool. "Kathleen Jean" is a sweeter Virginia "queen," but she too knows what she believes. 

Stoll's songs move us in many ways. "Free and Homeward" places us in the middle of John Brown's Raid and recounts events from the perspective of a doomed slave. It's dark and tragic and builds to a loud growly moment, yet offers final redemption: …I am free/and I am home. "On the Run" is a rocker with boot kicking grit; "Richmond City Blues" also rocks, but in the vein of songs that get the honky tonkers off their stools and onto the dance floor. "Until the Day" touches things deeply human—livin' alone with all my fears and I defy you to remain stoic during "Meaningless," a dying rich man's gift and dispensation to a young servant.

What a record! Buy it. You'll have a hard time moving it down your playlist.

Rob Weir

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