An experienced singer-songwriter who is over in the UK in May, Tia McGraff writes intelligent stories with a guitar for accompaniment. She plays on a bill in London with Hannah Rose Platt later in the month, and the pair are perfect to put on together if you love acoustic-driven music with a good lyrical message.
Faithful Ones is a Pete Seeger-style song which calls for universal brotherhood, ‘a million marching footprints…far and wide’. Change a Comin (‘there’s a rumble in the wind’) sounds like that old feminist anthem I Am Woman or an old Seekers tune like the one about teaching the world to buy Coke.
Rocks That You Can’t Move maintains the politics. It’s a story about a John Moses, a chap who works hard on his farm, which is ‘half a mile from my granddaddy’s’. He drinks and tells stories of his own while Tia sits listening and learning about America’s horrid recent history ‘when freedom didn’t ring’.
All the songs share the same DNA: soft acoustic guitar underscoring soaring melodies, prettily sung. The other four tracks move away from social justice and towards personal happiness.
Dartmoor about being at one with the horse. It’s a folk song with a country arrangement, and could be where Sam Palladio, from Cornwall, goes with his career post-Nashville. Masterpiece floats like an old Emmylou song about love being ‘like colored thread weaving through a tapestry’. It could well be about Tia and her husband-producer Tommy Parham, where ‘opposites attract’. At least that’s one reading, given the male voice popping in and out of the tune.
I love the line in Rocks That You Can’t Move that ‘it takes a little rain to make things grow’, alluding to the tears shed by those in hardship. This is one of many classy lyrics from a great writer with a wonderful voice. Bob Harris likes her; you should too.