Trainman Blues – Shadows and Shapes | Album Review

Trainman Blues – Shadows and Shapes


CD: 12 Songs, 43 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Ensemble Blues, All Original Songs

Eclectic. Merriam-Webster defines this word as “composed of elements drawn from various sources.” Blues fans, however, might define it as “Uh-oh. This isn’t what I’m used to hearing.” In the case of Shadows and Shapes, the newest album from the ensemble Trainman Blues, the adjective is a positive one. Consider your neighborhood collectibles shop, chock-full of the new, the old, and everything in between. The twelve original tracks on this CD seamlessly blend traditional blues and gospel with postmodern sound, especially on Wurlitzer organ and harp. The vocals by leading man Richard Farrell are rather hard to understand, but if one listens closely, one hears echoes of the late greats Sean Costello and Michael Ledbetter from Nick Moss and the Flip Tops. Morphing from jovial to poignant and back again, it’s comfort food for the soul.

Trainman Blues is a duo project between the blues brothers, singer/guitarist Richard Farrell (IRE), and producer/bass player Laust ‘Krudtmejer’ Nielsen (DK). Roaming from the streets of Copenhagen, Denmark, they met at the legendary Mojo Blues Bar and started collaborating in late 2016. Based on the idea of going back more than half a century to look for musical inspiration, mixed with present and personal songwriting and production, they quickly had their debut album ready. It was well received by critics and music lovers, and won a Danish Blues Music Award for “Best Album Of The Year 2018.”

Performing along with Farrell (vocals, backing vox and guitar) are Laust “Krudtmejer” Nielsen on bass, guitar, beats and organ; Thomas Crawfurd on drums and percussion; Lars Heiberg Andersen on drums; Ronni Boysen, Rune Hojmark and Alain Apaloo on guitar; Kristian Jorgensen on Wurlitzer organ; Peter Nande on harp; Cecilia Andersen on backing vocals, and Yves Moffre on saxophone.

“Losing Time” begins the album with a bouncy beat and hot harmonica from Peter Nande. It’s a reflection on the passage of time, featuring an apt metaphor: “There’s a train a-coming round the bend. When future’s fortunes keep looking ahead…” Here’s hoping that train doesn’t bludgeon us like it did last year! “Can’t Keep on Running” slows things down, literally and figuratively. No matter how fast life goes, sometimes we’ve got to take time to hold our loved ones close. Farrell’s vocals are explosive, almost mesmeric, as he takes his cues from the crooners of old. The background vocals are nothing to sneeze at, either. “Poor You,” track number four, is a rollicking, classic-sounding blues ode to a drama queen: “Poor you for the way you treated me. Poor you, you’re a dog without a bone. You were feeding on my pain, put me down into the rain.” Sarcasm just drips off this song. The title track is a gospel-style ballad with a psychedelic touch, reassuring us that our fears are ultimately “shadows and shapes, dancing in space.” “Sing Your Own Song” reminds us to hold on to our individuality despite societal and social media pressures. “I Cried” will chill you, and the final number, “Find My Wings” will lift you up.

It may not be your father’s or even your blues if you’re a Boomer, but rest assured that Shadows and Shapes has substantial songs and solid style to offer!

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