I picked up the new solo album by the lead singer for Bad Religion, Greg Graffin this weekend. I'm not sure what I was expecting. His first album, American Lesion, was a Todd Rungren-esque effort. The second, Cold As The Clay, was a straightforward folk record. Any guesses where the third one went? If you haven't figured it out, re-read the title of this post.
The new album, Millport, is a country album. This being Greg Graffin, there's absolutely no winking or irony in it.* It's not just one style of country. There's folk, bluegrass, alt-country, a kind of bluesy-rock country, and even some Eagles-ish 70's soft-rock country. In fact, there's a lot of Eagles-ish 70's soft-rock country.
Millport was produced by Graffin's Bad Religion bandmate and co-songwriter, Brett Gurewitz, and he's backed by the rhythm section of Social Distortion. There's a lot of southern California in there, so it's no surprise that there's a lot of the "Laurel Canyon" style of SoCal soft country. For my money, those are the weakest songs on the record, as he's riffing on a style I didn't care for the first time around.
The bluegrass, on the other hand, is a lot of fun.
I'm an unabashed fan, so it's no surprise that I kind of dig this direction. This is the sort of music you're more likely to hear on a public radio than any country station. Graffin's been in a punk band since 1979, so it's fun to hear him trying something new. Most of it works, some of it works really well, and all of it is interesting. If you're in to rootsy, bluegrass-y country, give it a listen.
* Well, I guess you could say that the lyrics to "Time of Need" are ironic, or at least they would be if you had never listened to any Bad Religion records.