The United States of America is a huge, diverse place with so many different stories to tell. While it’s impossible to tell every story about every part of the country, husband-and-wife duo The Grahams have made it a goal to dig deeply into the culture of America and transform that knowledge into their Americana-influenced tunes.
Alyssa and Doug Graham first turned their focus towards the Mississippi River Valley, the fertile ground from which blues and essentially rock and roll was born. That journey resulted in The Riverman’s Daughter, their 2013 debut. A second album Glory Bound was inspired by the duo’s adventures on the trains that cross-cross the nation, influenced in part by Woody Guthrie.
Their third album, released earlier this year is Kids Like Us and is influenced by a journey they took together on motorcycle, traversing the Western United States from Chicago to Los Angeles along the famed Route 66. Today we’re premiering the first in a series of episodes that make up their Searching the Milky Way mini-documentary, giving viewers a look into what that journey was like. Layering their heartland-evoking take on folk-rock-tinged alternative pop with footage of their cross-country journey, the duo breathe life into the idiosyncratic pockets of America they explore.
“We had a dream to ride our motorcycle across a piece of ‘great’ American history,” said Alyssa. “We were looking for a wild adventure along the vast 2300 miles that is Route 66. What we encountered was a different world stuck in a different time. A bit surreal, at times supernatural, a little majestic, a lot racist, always unexpected and unquestionably wild. What started out as a journey across the great Mother Road, to the land of milk and honey, turned out to be more like an esoteric episode of The Twilight Zone.”
The Grahams hail from New Jersey and New York but now call Nashville their home. Kids Like Us was produced by the late Richard Swift, who was not only a brilliant songwriter but someone able to get the most out of the artist while recording an album. Swift died at the age of 41 in 2018. After Swift passed away, Dan Molad finished the project with The Grahams.
“We wanted to work with Swift because of his unique sense of modernist preservation,” said Alyssa. “We got so much more. Richard was like magic. He was like nobody we’d ever met before. You instantly wanted to be near him and be part of his world and suck in the mysterious energy and love he put out”
Swift’s influence is evident on the record, as well as the influences the band took from their experiences traveling along Route 66. The instrumentation is more expansive and takes more risks by straying from the band’s more minimalist past approach.