Train have finally released their sixth studio album, California 37, and in small parts it was well worth the three year wait that fans of this American folk rock band have had to endure.
The parts that work well, have a delightful and attention seeking quality that rarely gets played, or even a second thought this side of the Atlantic but in the United States of America can seem two a penny and for that it is a shame. For what can seem sometimes fresh and a tad exciting in Heswall or Coventry is already inducing boredom in Texas or Philadelphia.
The album opens with the song This’ll Be My Year in which Pat Monahan’s vocals derive much joy are shrouded and dimmed by the rather twee subject matter. The lyrical matter has the feel of Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire, Bowling for Soup’s 1985 or even Johnny Cash’s incredible version of Wayne Kemp’s song One Piece at a Time with its thoughts spread over a man’s life and the images he witnesses. It has the feel; however unlike We Didn’t Start the Fire or even the humorous look at the lives of those that refuse to leave the mid 1980’s it has none of the charm or desire to research any of the issues that are held within the obviously well-meaning but slightly frayed song.
There are good moments within the album that drag the rest of the songs through and make it a worthwhile album to explore a couple of times but not one that, unless you are a dedicated fan or live alone and never expect company, you’ll be playing when people come round knocking on the door to borrow a cup of sugar.
It is an album that will no doubt go down well in the patriotic homes of America with its standard bearing flying high and smiles on the lips of the bankers and moneymen who pump short term monetary gain into starting new trends and then run to the next big thing.
If you are bored, it may be an album to while away an hour or two until you realise that life is short and there are many more albums that encompass this genre with much more bite and less sentimental gloss attached to it.
Ian D. Hall