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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Cold as the Clay

Posted on Thu, Jul 13, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Cold as the Clay
Label: Epitaph
Length: LP
Rated: NONE
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: Cold as the Clay
Experimentation outside melodic hardcore's boundaries hasn't been Greg Graffin's strong suit, but that hasn't kept him from poking at the envelope of his reputation. Bad Religion's second album, 1983's Into the Unknown, introduced steamrolling synthesizers, and fans treated it like transplant patients rejecting alien organs. Graffin's solo acoustic debut, released in 1997 under the pseudonym American Lesion, disappeared into out-of-print obscurity. Cold as the Clay should escape such an undignified fate. Graffin has built folk credibility throughout Bad Religion's 26-year career ' 1993's Recipe for Hate, in particular, bares its coffeehouse-circuit soul ' and he cashes it in on this collection. Members of the Weakerthans accompany his authentic-sounding Americana originals, banjo-pickin' old-timers fuel his
traditional tunes and alt-country crooner Jolie Holland co-pilots several harmonic duets. Graffin lacks the gritty menace to make his murder ballads chilling, but the infallible instrumentation renders such concerns secondary. Besides, even when Graffin's ruggedly earnest voice is miscast, it's novel to hear it carry choruses without backup from Bad Religion's barbershop brigade.

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