The Upshot: Singer-songwriter trafficking in heartache and following in the tradition of some of the greats.
BY JOHN B. MOORE
Richard McGraw was likely born decades too late. Over four increasingly great records, the New York musician has made music his peers would be envious of; that is, if his peers were folks like Leonard Cohen, Harry Nilsson and Cat Stevens. On his latest, How to Suffer, he turns in yet another strong set of singer/songwriter tracks focused on nuanced, sometimes biting lyrics, bringing him more in line with the music scene of the ‘70s, than New York’s latest slew of hirsute troubadours.
How to Suffer is brimming with heartache and, well, suffering (so pretty apt title you got there), and thanks to McGraw’s stripped down sound you can hear the sorrow loud and clear in every single lyric. Though a bulk of the music is downbeat, there are still moments where he’s not afraid to rock, like on “Silver Trays,” a slow build about a songwriter not exactly hitting it big. He also impressively employs whistling in the song “Sadness” without coming across as cheesy.
While the music here is good enough to stand on its own, McGraw has opted for some pretty clever packaging, akin to small hymnal, that is filled with lyrics and pics, along with the CD and download card. In an age of artists offering little more than overpriced downloads, this is just one more sign that McGraw is lost in another decade. Thank god.
DOWNLOAD: “Silver Trays,” “Sadness” and “How to Suffer”