For Austin music legend Jon Dee Graham, Only Dead For A Little While carries with it an undeniable urgency, a sense of purpose that can only come from having stared death in the face and lived to sing about it.
With Only Dead For A Little While, his first release in seven years, Jon Dee Graham not only showcases his fifth-generation Texan roots but takes a hard look at the profound intersection of life, love, and death, interlacing them into an inextricable thread. The raw intensity that has been a hallmark of Graham's music is on full display, serving as a conduit to that deep connection between life's most intense aspects. He makes you feel it, every chord, every lyric, every note resonating with a visceral power that only a writer of his caliber can conjure.
The new album not only brings Graham's original compositions to the forefront but also features an affecting rendition of "Death Ain't Got No Mercy," a song originally done by the Rev. Gary Davis. Graham's stripped-down and stark approach breathes new life into this gospel blues classic, making it a perfect fit for the album's overall theme. The album title carries a profound and personal meaning for the singer-songwriter. In 2019, following a show in Chicago, he faced a life-altering event when a cardiac arrest rendered him dead for several minutes. Yet, defying the odds, he was revived in the ICU, and three days later, he humorously posted on his Facebook page, "I was only dead for a little while." It's a testament to his resilience and the sheer force of life that courses through his veins. He came back from the brink of mortality to create something special, infusing it with a vitality and passion that only comes after nearly losing it all.
Jon Dee Graham attributes much of the album's creation to the efforts of George Fontaine and Jay Woods, who provided the support and platform he needed to make a record he can be truly proud of. In addition, he's found a label home that not only believes in his art but empowers him to reach new heights. With a career that spans the trenches of punk to the plains of Americana, Graham is no stranger to the stage. He's already left his mark as a member of bands the Skunks and True Believers, making him a seminal figure in the Texas music scene. Only Dead For A Little While continues to build on his legacy, where he emerges not just as a musician but as a storyteller, a survivor who returned from the precipice to give us his most life-affirming work yet.