Release date: July 14, 2023 on all major platforms
Video premiere: July 10, 2023 at Americana Highways
“Messages From the Grave is about the struggle a man has with his haunting memories of a loved one that is now deceased. He sits at her desk drinking whiskey and sorting through her old photos and poems. He reflects on his memories of her and questions who else would still remember her poems that he feels are timeless. As the song progresses, the nameless man falls further and further into melancholy and despair. Finally, overcome with emotion and the effects of the alcohol, he passes out at the desk and begins to dream about her.
To be specific, the poet is a woman named Velma who lived in New Orleans and passed away in the 1950s. I found her photo at antique store in upstate New York and it inspired me to write and record the song. Though she and her story are fictional, the photo I have of her was signed by an actual person named Velma. I created a song from her photo. This recording is a collaboration with Hudson Valley poet David Schell and NYC based keyboardist Johnny Young. Johnny took a musical sketch that I wrote, ran with it, and created a hypnotic and captivating aural soundscape that fits the words of the song perfectly.”
~ Phil Gammage Americana Highways
Written by Phil Gammage and David Schell. Joining Phil (lead vocal, acoustic guitar) is keyboardist Johnny Young (Peak) on piano, Fender Rhodes, and mellotron. Johnny’s melodic playing throughout subtly captures the mood of the lyrics and Phil’s singing.
Produced by Gammage from his upcoming album Redeemed. Recorded at 30 Below Studio and other studios in New York, NY. Engineered by Brent McLachlan and Gammage.
About the cover … the photograph is of an unknown woman taken by an unknown photographer sometime in the 1940s. Phil chose it for the cover because he found her image represents well the subject of the song, a woman named Velma. The photograph is actually signed by her.