Gavin DeGraw unveiled his new 10-track project on Friday (May 20), sharing a deeply personal collection that serves as a tribute to his family. DeGraw shared on his social media channels: “This album is dedicated to my parents. They were my heroes. It was their love story, their sacrifices, and their guidance that shaped this music.”
Face The River follows the release of DeGraw’s sentimental title track — which includes a nod to “the two most important people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing” in its official video — and a documentary series. The “heartfelt and uplifting” series followed the singer-songwriter “as he crisscrosses America struggling with the unresolved grief that comes with the untimely loss of both parents,” reads a press release.
DeGraw answered a few questions from iHeartRadio about his latest album. Some responses have been edited for length or clarity. Here’s what he said:
iHeartRadio: “Face The River” is the first song to release from your new album. How does it set the tone for the whole project?
Gavin DeGraw: That song ‘Face The River’ I think really, really does set the tone for the album itself. That's why we led off with it. Just by revealing that there's something heavy, but there's something heavy that we all must face, a challenge of some sort. I think particularly during the time when the song was written and recorded, we were all as a — not just this country, but globally — we were all sort of getting our a**es kicked. I was feeling a lot of that… That was added to more personal things that were happening within the family with loss of loved ones and, you know, watching other things transpire around that time with loss of my mother and grandmother and grandfather, and then my father facing his own personal struggle as well, and … bearing witness to that and participating in trying to help. … The song really does tap into that feeling, that feeling of there's something that needs to be dealt with and we all at one point or another have to have to face the river, even if we don't want to.
iHeart: You’ve shared that the album is dedicated to your parents. What is it like to get to share such a personal album with your fans?
DeGraw: Well, it's actually a bit intimidating, but at the same time, a relief. Because I feel, you know, although as a writer I may be — or as an artist and writer — I may be intimidated to put certain things out into the atmosphere, I feel like when you're lucky enough to have an audience, when you're lucky enough to have fans and… if they truly are of your fans, for the most part, really your fans are the ones who are creating that safe space, if you will, to express yourself and to tell them where you're at in your life and how you're feeling and they give you an opportunity to be candid with them.
It really is an open-arms sort of environment when you're lucky enough to be an artist and have a relationship with your fans. They provide that environment. And that's why I felt alright about revealing this type of content and these types of songs and telling these stories. But also, I was also very proud of my relationship with my folks, you know, very proud of them as people and proud of the things they'd done for us as a family and the sacrifices they'd made as people for our benefit as a family, as being one of their kids. I really wanted to tell a bit of their story and share some of their love story and share their life story and do it in a light that they deserved.
In that regard, I really wanted to take the opportunity to brag on how utterly awesome I thought they were, and think they were. …They were spectacular parents and really great people. And like a lot of folks out there, didn't necessarily get acknowledged on a large, like a global scale of any kind, because, you know, that's just the way things are in society in general. But I wanted to take an opportunity to celebrate the people who I thought shaped me and did a really good job as human beings and as parents, and as participants in this experiment called life. They really did their best, and I watched them try their best on a constant and personal level.
I wanted to celebrate that, these are my heroes... I wanted to brag on 'em. I'm proud of them. Everything good that ever came to me, came to me because of what they did.
iHeartRadio: You also premiered a new documentary series. How does the series “Face The River” complement your single/album?
DeGraw: The documentary series is really very much directly geared toward revealing bits and pieces about our lives growing up and our interaction — my interaction, me and my brother and sisters' interaction — with our folks, and really telling as much of the story, or at least pieces of the story that I could to fit in with the songwriting that I did for the album. So, it was really personal for me to write this record. It was important for me to write this record alone, which I did. …It was important to me to do that again, and to tell my story and tell their story and where we all fit in with each other.
There was just so much going on in my personal life and in the world at the time, I mean, as with everyone. It was recorded during the height of COVID, so everybody was kind of mutually getting their a**es kicked on the planet. So, I was having my own version of that, too. Once the album was finished, I felt it was important to accompany that material was some other things about my life, which allow people to understand why an album like this would be made and why it was so important to me to write songs like this. Why did I want to say so much about these awesome people? Why did I wanna tell this story?
I think just having a little bit of a window into my private life and how I enjoy living, which is a pretty free-spirited approach to being on the planet. I like road tripping and I just live like that, even when I'm not quote unquote on tour, I'm road tripping. It’s just what I like to do. It’s how I treat myself. It's my therapy, along with the music and some other stuff… The documentary series, I take you on the road with me and I show you kind of why I love it so much and why I like to road trip so much, and what it does for me and my mental health, and how that's a common thread between me and my other family members is that we all individually love taking road trips. It’s just one of the ways that I free my mind.
iHeartRadio: Anything else you’d like to add?
DeGraw: Whoever's listening to this, thank you so much for taking the time. I really hope you enjoy the series and really, really hope you feel the album and feel the love on that record because the record really is just filled with so much love and appreciation and celebration and good vibes. It’s just a feel-good record. That’s all there is to it. I hope you feel that the way I feel that.