Being one of five siblings, it’s hard to imagine what it’d be like teaming up with them to create a full-length album for your parent’s wedding anniversary. But, that’s exactly what Christo Graham managed to do for Graham’s General Store, which hit streaming services yesterday, October 1st.
Graham and his siblings independently crafted a collaborative family album that runneth over with the warmth and familiarity of folk and Americana music.
Within the band, we have Leigh on electric guitar, organ, upright bass, kalimba, and vocals; Theresa on electric piano, vocals, and tambourine; Carey on bass, acoustic guitar, and vocals; Theo on drums, violin, and vocals; and Christo on acoustic & electric guitar, percussion, harmonica, and vocals.
The Graham’s General Store namesake is their family-owned general store in Bishops Mills, Ontario, but it also takes inspiration from the time capsule of childhood memories that the five siblings share from their experiences being raised and homeschooled in the middle of the Canadian wilderness. The siblings have a shared sense of familial collaboration, as their record explores a variety of genres within 10 songs, including country, folk, rock, blues, bluegrass, and hymn.
Opening up Graham’s General Store is the titular track, which is a folk song at its core. Entirely live, acoustic, and full of harmony, the song lists items one might find for sale at this general store. “Graham’s General Store Reprise” also closes the album, with a similar sound and lyrics as its original version. The reprise, however, is nearly 90 seconds longer and closes the album with the line, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it”. These two tracks parenthesize the rest of the album by establishing our setting and introducing the folk and roots theme to the listener.
“Front Porch”, the record’s first single, is a song that marries twee-pop and indie folk to create a touching sentiment to family memories and childhood innocence. The song’s music video is composed entirely of home footage of the siblings. With lyrics such as “the past is never past, it shall remain if we keep on living it over and over again”, the track paints the picture of the love that siblings can share and the memories made that can last a lifetime.
Graham and his siblings even include their own rendition of a traditional hymn on “Jesus Tender”. Featuring vocals from all five members, the track entirely captures the warmth, intimacy, and antiquity of the hymn. The group’s ability to explore multiple genres is displayed on “Breastfed Blues” and “Do You”. The former is a blues-heavy, harmonica-ridden track, while the latter, being the album’s second single, is much more country-folk with a Beach Boys vocal influence.
The Grahams’ ability to cross genres and bend the rules is showcased across Graham’s General Store’s 10 tracks, written, produced, and arranged entirely by Christo and his siblings. Christo himself, an actor, musician, and graphic designer, has released seven self-produced albums, the latest being Turnin’.
Graham’s General Store is about as down-home, blue collar, and heartwarming as it comes.