Jon Dee Graham is now four CDs into a solo career that proves he's a songwriter possessed of the same insight as Tom Waits (to whom his sandpaper voice has often been compared), Neil Young, and Fred Eaglesmith. His newest disc, appropriately titled The Great Battle
, is another chronicle of people for whom life is indeed a battle of one sort or another. Graham himself claims he's a most happy fellow at the moment, yet he obviously hasn't lost his eye for the humans filled with anger, heartbreak, loss, and hope. He's looked at life from both sides now, but is still on the hunt for a third side. The music on Battle
is as tough and beautiful as ever, a by-product of years of studio work with like-minded artists and buggy-whipping his own band at the Continental Club in his hometown of Austin, Texas. The guy is the real deal.