The Grahams’ Alyssa and Doug Graham are New Jersey raised, New York bred, but Nashville based — a cross-section of regional influences that allows them to slip in and out of genres like they’re changing clothes. Their unique sound landed them at the top of the Americana charts when their first album, Riverman’s Daughter, was released in 2013, led to the critically acclaimed Glory Bound in 2016, and their affair with a more alt-pop sound on 2020’s Kids Like Us (co-produced by the late Richard Swift and Lucious’ Dan Molad). Their music has landed them in every major music publication and grown them a legion of dedicated fans around the world. In 2021 their music has evolved again into a nostalgia-inducing mellow gold sound with a nod to mid-century soul and classic UK pop. If that sounds like a mouthful, it’s by design. Consider their upcoming three song EP Sha La La (October 15th) a moment of bliss before the duo’s next full album, due in 2022.
A tongue-in-cheek reference to a laissez-faire approach to life, Sha La La is The Grahams’ attempt to exorcise the pains and disappointments of the last 14 months. Rather than writhing in self pity and judgement, or aspirations driven by narcissism, they decided to simply let go of trying to control or overcome the situation, liberating themselves of their anger and who they thought they were, while embracing who they may become.
Their 2020 LP Kids Like Us — four years in the making — was considered their best work to-date. Released in March of the year of our lord COVID, they were devastated as their tour plans and other promotional opportunities were slowly picked off one by one. While this is a familiar story by now, The Grahams’ specific experience was compounded by a perfect storm of difficult situations. New parents with a one year-old when the pandemic broke out (and without any family nearby), they found themselves isolated with their child while Alyssa struggled with postpartum depression. She also discovered that she needed surgery on her wrist, and simultaneously suffered a painful and debilitating vocal hemorrhage, and therefore couldn’t speak (let alone sing) or play guitar for weeks — followed by many months of vocal therapy. While it was an extremely difficult time, the couple’s bond only grew stronger.
When The Grahams decided to pick up their spirits by making new music, they headed to 3 Sirens Studio — a hidden, invite-only East Nashville space which they own and operate. The duo had a deep desire to experiment with new sounds, let go of structure and their normal methods, and “just get really high and make art for art’s sake with friends.” They decided that “sha la la,” a recurring vocal run on the EP’s focus track “Love Collector,” was a fitting name for letting go of everything you once thought made sense, but doesn’t anymore.
Taking influence from nostalgic love songs that test the boundaries of life and death, the concept of eternal love has always been important to The Grahams as they’ve been together since childhood. The three songs on Sha La La, from the chaotic hooks of “Love Collector,” the teary blue-eyed soul of “Beyond The Palisades,” and the brooding musings of the ultra-stylized “Pilgrims and Punks,” are The Grahams’ serendipitous contribution to the notion that even when the world is turned upside down, if you can’t make plans, make art.
“A new sound – a lush pop exercise co-produced by the late Richard Swift, in his last project.” – Billboard
“Bombastic, and electric… elements of Motown, soul, and songs of another era.” – American Songwriter
“A musical exercise in the “earthy appreciation of sensual pleasures” by the Brooklyn/Nashville duo the Grahams.” – PopMatters
“The couple’s life experiences and memories effortlessly weave in and out of songs.” – The Boot
‘A gorgeous blend of Americana and folk music.” – Taste of Country