New Jersey Stage logo
New Jersey Stage Menu

Makin Waves Album of the Month: "I Won't Cry Alone" by Roadside Graves

By Bob Makin

originally published: 10/24/2023

Makin Waves Album of the Month: "I Won


“I Won’t Cry Alone” is the seventh full-length release from Metuchen-based Roadside Graves for the New Brunswick-originated indie Don Giovanni Records, also the home Jersey acts Screaming Females and Teenage Halloween. In 2011, Roadside Graves released “We Can Take Care of Ourselves,” based on S.E. Hinton’s classic novel “The Outsiders.” During the heart of the pandemic, the band collaborated remotely and again returned to Hinton’s writing for inspiration, this time drawing from her more painful and surreal book “Rumblefish.”

“I Won’t Cry Alone” mashes up narrative features of the book with an emotional seesaw of morbid and triumphant personal experiences. The haunting, jangling pulse of the opening “Closure” introduces a third element, intertwining book threads with bits from the tragic lives of songwriters Jackson C. Frank and Sandy Denny.

Produced by Paul Simon, Frank’s only album was released in 1965. The New York singer-songwriter subsequently was plagued by a series of personal issues, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia and protracted depression that prevented him from maintaining his career. He spent his later life homeless and destitute, and died in 1999 from a combination of pneumonia and cardiac arrest. Though he only released one record, he has been cited as an influence by many singer-songwriters, including Simon, as well as Denny. The lead singer of the influential British folk band Fairport Convention in the late ‘60s embarked upon an equally inspiring solo career cut short by her 1978 death at the age of 31 after battles with alcohol addiction and mental illness.

“It’s a shame to survive and have nowhere to go. Forgive me I want to be alone. Here’s the trauma I have known.” That’s just about as hopeless as a lyric can get. Drummer Colin Ryan adds to the emotional roller coaster of “Closure” with a Keith Moon-like rhythm that snakes around singer-songwriter John Gleason’s aching vocal. A pedal steel by sought-after YouTube guitar teacher Eric Haugen does much of the same as a vocal choir rises around it. 

The rousing string-driven single, “We're Not Here,” is like a tennis match between melancholy and force. The resulting tie is another great example of Roadside Graves’ fine folk-rock.

Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info

The stomping “Fight Clean” expresses the need to escape from life’s hardship, particularly rejection. A gang vocal toward the end of the punk-tinged track shares a sense of empathy.

“Steve's Song” is inspired by Steve Hays, the friend of “Rumblefish” main character Rusty-James, whose point of view is expressed as he describes his dysfunctional upbringing and desire to drop out alongside his older brother, Motorcycle Boy. Throughout, a vocal harmony between John’s tenor and guitarist Jeremy Benson’s baritone adds to the characterization of the siblings.

The angst of such lyrics as “What a strange way to die / You just fold it up from the inside. No trace left behind of who you were” are drowned in a bar, while Colin’s deft cymbal rhythms rattle the spine on “Feel Everything.” I love the cowboys vs. aliens-like outro that combines spaghetti western guitar with spacey synths by Johnny Piatkowski, making for a song within a song and an excellent segue into the somewhat similar-sounding intro of “Here for the Lights.”

Morphing into a Roy Orbison-like lament, “Here for the Lights” features another fine baritone harmony by Jeremy within a tune that examines memories and the loyalty, enlightenment and pain they inspire. I love the way Jeremy’s deeply moaning guitar matches his voice.

Next up is “Patty's House,” a Dylanesque folk-rock ode to Rusty’s girlfriend, Patty, whose house is the only place where he can be himself. Meanwhile, Patty prudently desires him to be more like his colorful dreams than his black & white life. For now, from violent non-direction, Patty’s house is a happy haven where Rusty steals her father’s beer and his daughter’s kisses.

John Gleason and Colin Ryan’s Lowlight band mate Dana Sellers guests on keyboards on “Patty’s House” and sings back ups throughout the album, which her husband, Lowlight guitarist-producer Derril Sellers, co-recorded at their Cako Studios, a converted church in South Bound Brook.

On “Long Death,” Rusty seems to be saying that he’d rather live a long life amidst fields of marigolds, but more likely will have a long death buried beneath them given the violent ride he’s on, fueled by his older brother and their friends. The dichotomous tune is a nice showcase for the subtle, tasteful rhythms of bassist Dave Jones and Jeremy, who ends the song with a sweet Spanish-style guitar.

Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info

“If You Know Where To Look” contemplates death and belonging. Rusty seems torn between the two, then asks the listener/reader/viewer to sing along.

“Nothing Happened” perhaps is wishful thinking that Rusty could forget the tragedies that befell him and the friends who remind him of them. Beautiful organ by Johnny and piano by Jeremy open the closer, while a rad Neil Young-like jam closes it.

Hinton is credited as the pioneer of the young adult novel, books about teens for teens but strongly written enough to attract adults. Oscar-winning “Godfather” series director-screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola was so inspired that he created 1980s film versions of Hinton’s 1967 debut “The Outsiders” and its 1975 counterpart “Rumblefish.” But Roadside Graves seem even more inspired.

Like “We Can Take Care of Ourselves,” “I Won’t Cry Alone” is passionately, poetically powerful in its examination of misdirection and how its pain can steamroll redemption. The emotional album was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Derril and Rob Lombardo (Mon Goose). They mined it like diamonds, softly and subtly, no cracks.

Most of Lowlight was involved in “I Won’t Cry Alone.” In addition to the Sellers, John Gleason and Colin Ryan are members, as well as a side project called Last Legs, which Derril also has produced.

Roadside Graves are educators, an environmental scientist and a tech guru who hail from all over New Jersey with one stray up in Providence, RI. They’ve been a band for 25 years and have no intention of ever stopping because, why not?

Having recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of Don Giovanni with several label mates earlier this month, Roadside Graves will celebrate the Nov. 10 release of “I Won’t Cry Alone” on Nov. 11 at Pino’s in Highland Park with RGD and Son of Dov and Nov. 12 at Old Franklin Schoolhouse in the band’s hometown of Metuchen with Karl Blau and Best Bear. 

For more about Roadside Graves, visit them on Instagram.


Bob Makin has produced Makin Waves since 1988. Follow Makin Waves on Facebook and contact Bob at

Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info



Marc Broussard – Carencro 20th Anniversary Tour

Monday, March 04, 2024 @ 7:30pm
The Vogel
99 Monmouth Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701
category: music

Click here for full description

The Life & Music of George Michael

Tuesday, March 05, 2024 @ 8:00pm
Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC)
30 North Van Brunt Street, Englewood, NJ 07631
category: music

Click here for full description


Tuesday, March 05, 2024 @ 7:30pm
William Paterson University - Shea Recital Hall 101
300 Pompton Rd, Wayne, NJ 07470
category: music

Click here for full description

Click here for more events

Listings are available for $10 and included with our banner ad packages.

Click here for more info.



TCNJ's Center for the Arts presents Las Cafeteras

(TRENTON, NJ) -- The College of New Jersey's Center for the Arts presents Las Cafeteras on Wednesday, March 6 at 8:00pm in the Kendall Main Stage Theater. The LA Times describes Las Cafeteras as "uniquely Angeleno mishmash of punk, hip-hop, beat music, cumbia and rock... live, they/re magnetic."

The Princeton Folk Music Society presents Ruth Wyand

Skyline Theatre Company presents Reflections: Ireland In Song and Story

Music in the Somerset Hills presents a concert at the Community of St. John Baptist

Click here for more event previews

New Jersey Stage

© 2024 by Wine Time Media, LLC
PO Box 811, Belmar, NJ 07719

Nobody covers the Arts
throughout the Garden State
like New Jersey Stage!

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms. If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Threads, and on our RSS feed

Art | Comedy | Dance | Film | Music | Theatre | Ad Rates | About Us | Pitch a Story | Links | Radio Shows | Privacy Policy