When we last left off, The Grahams were on a cross-country journey—literally documenting their six-week motorcycle expedition across America, reflecting on their New Jersey childhood together, while intersecting new genres on Kids Like Us—just before the pandemic would end any semblance of travel. Always concentrated on knowing their surroundings, and what’s beyond, and remembering their roots, Kids Like Us opened territory for the Nashville-based duo, made up of couple Alyssa and Doug Graham, from more rootsy Americana odes to Deep South and lesser-explored regions into something more soulful and expansive.
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Still looking beyond their horizons, “Beyond the Palisades,” off the duo’s upcoming EP Sha La La, out Oct 15, finds The Grahams seeking respite from the aches and pains of the past 14 months and the thrill of finding somewhere new… once again.
A nod to the evolution of the couple’s relationship, their childhood in Jersey, and homage to all the places they’ve been, “Beyond the Palisades” was co-written with childhood friend and longtime collaborator—and another Jersey native—Bryan McCann.
“We have always liked to explore the boundaries between life and death,” says Alyssa. “The concept of eternal love has always been important to us, seeing as we’ve been together since we were kids. We want to believe that our love is powerful enough to survive death.”
When the pandemic hit, Doug and Alyssa were in California, which led to more ruminating on life, death, and what is beyond. “Life just changed in a blink and that makes you question everything, including mortality, love, and eternity,” says Alysssa. “‘Beyond the Palisades’ is indeed a love song but with very dark undercurrents. It’s not so simple. Love is not so simple.”
Look around you can see the tremble / Make a sound and you just might hear it crumble, “Beyond the Palisades” is the calm before a turbulent storm, riding waves around a more cinematic orchestration, and questioning what happens “beyond our grasp, beyond our control, beyond our imagination.”
“Together we’ve lived so much, experienced so much, created so much and loved so much,” shares Alyssa, “but, what happens beyond the Palisades?”
Written at the close of their cross-country trek, which ended at the Pacific Palisades, “Beyond the Palisades” was a fitting close and new beginning for the couple.
“When we stood out gazing beyond the Palisades after this wild adventure, we wondered what was beyond the end,” says Alyssa. “I guess you could say, ‘Beyond The Palisades’ was a continuous question mark and so we walked away from finishing the song. When the pandemic hit, it seemed like an appropriate time to pick it back up and explore the concept of beyond the end.”
Alyssa adds, “Luckily, this song became a lifeline or an anchor that kept us afloat through a difficult time. It showed us a beautiful new beyond and helped us to accept a new life, a new perspective on love and art. It became less about the end and more about a new beginning.”
Once the pandemic hit, the song helped the couple maneuver through difficult times. “We found that ‘Beyond The Palisades’ was less about who we thought we were and more about embracing who we may become,” says Alyssa. “This new outlook encouraged us to go back into our studio in East Nashville (3 Sirens Studio) and just dive deep into letting go. That was an incredibly beautiful experience.”
Working less by a process on the new songs, Sha La La came together more naturally, revealing the first three songs, and more, which the duo plan release as full-length in 2022.”This was a time to shed skin, lose control, go down the rabbit hole and escape into the great unknown,” says Alyssa. “The songs that emerged are three epics we never could have written if the world had remained the same. When Doug and I were kids growing up in Jersey (doing a lot of acid) we recognized quickly that the most beautiful day could always breakthrough after a bad trip. I suppose that’s what happened in this unexpected recording session during a global pandemic.”
Still on a life-long journey together, the couple had their first child, Georgette Ida Graham, in 2019, and whether east, west, north, or south, everything comes back to their NJ roots and what they’ve yet to discover next… together.
“I think living in Nashville for most of the last decade, we have always tried to escape our Jersey roots,” says Alyssa. “However, you can take the girl (and the guy) out of Jersey, but you can never take Jersey out of the girl. I’ll always be a Jersey girl at heart.”