A Girl, A Bottle, A Boat
The world is riddled with wars, disease, famines and shortages, less than stable governments, splintering political parties and climate shifts…but Pat Monahan is in hedonistic frame of mind! and here is a new Train album, coming after the puzzling Led Zep karaoke outing.
Mixed by Mark Endert, this collection finds the group now helmed by just one original members, Monahan and I am not sure why this set does not seem to feature bedrock guitar stylist Jimmy Stafford. We think he is out of the lineup for this one.
Train’s reputation is bolstered by their ability to deliver entertaining live performances and indeed they will be out in the states and elsewhere promoting this release. So, on to the tracks…….
Drink Up is a punchy disco-tinged opener with Pat in fine vocal form. Electronica touches riddle the song and the chorus is an air-puncher. The album artwork has echoes of Rio-period Duran Duran. I like the chunky guitar sound that comes in later on the cut. It’s an instant party anthem, for sure. Play That Song tumbles off an acoustic guitar intro and again is catchy as hell. The melody reminds me of another song and that will come to me..maybe a Spector hit as this has more than a hint of The Ronettes?
The News has a reggae framing with chattering keys on delay and emphatic beat with a counter-melody laid into the mix, with very full vocal arrangement. A really haunting and more substantial song. It’s the narrator that it’s in The News, by the way ; Lottery is based on a breathless tempo intro phasing into a heavier beat and jungle passages. Brazil on speed is the phrase that comes to mind, but Monahan is more than capable of riding this sort of jigsaw puzzle out and holding things together. To me the song is a basic mess, to be frank but it’s delivered with confidence.
Working Girl uses Pat’s voice to good effect, he sounds impassioned. Lyric from a female perspective and she sounds determined. One of the stronger songs here but the backing for me is too full-on, on other Train records much better use of space has been attained. They often sound more European than American.
Silver Dollar starts weirdly then falls into a solid handclap, great trumpet bouncing in the back of the mix before the pop-reggae timing takes over. Surely a big hit single??
Valentine goes back to street corner doowop at commencement, complete with Moonglows style and softer vocal. Old-fashioned fun but a tad lightweight; What Good Is Saturday is gentler with Hawaiian style guitar but Monahan still sounds over-eager. I bet in real life he doesn’t have to try that hard ! it’s as if he is determined to cast himself as a struggler, method acting singing, really. Loverman has a vocal contribution from Priscilla Renea has an early-Capitol label vocal style, made for jukebox 45’s.
Pat gives her space to sing out. The percussive backdrop is far too busy, it’s distracting and more piano emphasis would have made this a better listen. Nice melodies, it must be said. Lost And Found goes Kid Creole with clipped horns and percussion, Monahan doesn’t go into overdrive but just sings, so this is the best vocal on the set, by far. The song isn’t a great distance from JLTT site favourite Mayer Hawthorne.
You Better Believe is more solemn and reflective, set to clanking piano with a touching melodic structure and a vocal that sounds heartfelt. For me it is by far the deepest and listenable song on the whole record. Much of the rest is too busy and doggedly determined to party. Having said that, there are a few radio hits on A Girl, A Bottle, A Boat..just bring on some warmer weather…PLEASE!!
Train’s new studio album ‘A Girl, A Bottle, A Boat’ is out now on Columbia/Sony Music.
(Many thanks Jenny at Chuff Media for all of her help with this review)
In addition, Train have announced an 8-date ‘Play That Song’ UK and Ireland tour for October 2017. The tour stops at the following venues:
Monday 16th October 2017 – Memorial & City Hall, Sheffield, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2kH5sd4
Tuesday 17th October 2017 – O2 Academy Newcastle, Newcastle, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/1PrxiCJ
Thursday 19th October 2017 – O2 Apollo Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2dtm2HY
Friday 20th October 2017 – O2 Academy Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2e9wRR1
Saturday 21st October 2017 – O2 Academy Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2hzCVT9
Monday 23rd October 2017 – Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2lcviCJ
Tuesday 24th October 2017 – Vicar Street, Dublin, Ireland http://bit.ly/2kfXZkK
Wednesday 25th October 2017 – Belfast Waterfront, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2kw4fTZ