One Track Mind: Alyssa Graham, "High Time" (2011)

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Alyssa Graham’s “High Time,” this melancholy remake, transforms a familiar Grateful Dead song from 1970 into a scorching tale of hope replaced by regret.

There was something about the gentle backwoods twang of the original that felt idyllic, despite the lyric’s obvious lonesomeness. As performed by Jerry Garcia and Co., you couldn’t help but think there was still a shot at redemption. Not here: Graham’s take is all nostalgic longing; there’s a very real sense that it’s all over.

“High Time,” of course, originally appeared on the Workingman’s Dead, a more song-based, decidedly un-shambolic project that took flight through Garcia’s writing partnership with Robert Hunter — and the Dead’s obvious infatuation with the country-rock feel (and, in particular, the vocal intertwinings) of Crosby, Still and Nash. This track was one of those that most closely mimicked their soaring harmonies, a technique that heretofore had been absent in the Grateful Dead’s sound.

Graham, however, goes it alone vocally, with just the addition of a fuzzy electric guitar toward the end — all the more to underscore this new take’s brilliantly executed, quickly enveloping aloneness.

“High Time,” available now on iTunes, is part of the recently released Lock, Stock and Soul EP on Sunnyside Records, produced by Grammy-winner Craig Street. Graham’s talented backing band includes bassist Me’Shell Ndegeocello, guitarist Chris Bruce (Sheryl Crow and John Legend) and keyboardist Keefus Ciancia (Elton John and Iggy Pop). Guests include longtime musical partner and songwriter Doug Graham; Jesse Harris, who is known for his work with Norah Jones; Madeleine Peyroux and Austin Music Hall of Fame member Davíd Garza, among others. A full-length project is expected later this year.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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