The brothers at the center of Appalachian folk-rock group Wayne Graham had something of a return to form at the start of making their latest record, 1% Juice. Kenny and Hayden Miles went back to the basement studio in their childhood home in Whitesburg, Kentucky, to work on a collection of songs about keeping your loved ones close — something we can all get behind in this challenging time. Named for their paternal and maternal grandfathers, Wayne Graham is a testament to what can blossom in a familial creative partnership, with their warm harmonies and swooning melodies.
The Miles brothers don’t shy away from the occasional up-tempo groove, as with the trippy instrumental title track and finger-pickers like “Slept Alone” and “Chifforobe.” But 1% Juice thrives in its mellowest moments. Opening track “Tapestry of Time” is the sweet spot, contrasting a driving guitar melody with the occasional gurgle of bass and eventually echoing this arrangement with vocals, layering a low rumble under a sweeter midlevel tone. In it they sing about passing fear down like a gene, from generation to generation, and mine the importance of breaking the chain.
Standout “What For?” adds piano to the mix and, with your eyes closed, could almost be a twangier Dawes tune. This is the band at their best, as they chronicle the never-ending search for love and purpose, only to find it was there all along right at home. “Infinitude” is the album’s gospel number, with bright horns uplifting a message of love and equality. “Some Days” continues to build with a lavish sigh of strings, and could sit quite comfortably on the shelf among your favorite ’70s roots records. A solid reminder to keep on keeping on as the seasons change, and as life throws you unexpected hardships, it ends the album on a high note.