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Save Me, San Francisco

After Pat Monahan’s topnotch solo album last year, it’s pleasing to see Train rolling again and delivering eleven new cuts, their distinctive and quirky artwork slant still evident from the CD cover.

A lot of the song titles have a familiar ring, witness ‘Words’, ‘I Got You’, ‘Breakfast In Bed’,  ‘Parachute’ and ‘Brick By Brick’, but this isn’t an album of other people’s songs, so don’t be misled.

Title track ‘Save Me, San Francisco’ is a brisk, acoustic guitar-led stomp of the Creedence persuasion, mighty chorus, slide guitar, piano, whomping drums, catchy as hell. ‘Hey Soul Sister’ is lighter fare, again Monahan seems to always pick the right key for his comparatively high-range voice, hence he never strays into Sting-type strained singing. In fact his skill at key selection is on a par with Jay Ferguson’s, the ex-Spirit singer who often worked in this upbeat singalong territory for his series of solo albums such as ‘Thunder Island’.

‘Parachute’ is a full-blooded mid-tempo ballad with a classic arrangement and surefooted drums and a fuzztoned chorus and coasting strings. ‘This Ain’t Goodbye’ has eerie piano and is reminiscent of Pat’s solo album.

‘If It’s Love’ might be a Whitesnake style song title but sure isn’t moody as it’s a wordy and jumpy piece, a bit full-on for this listener but pulled off really well for what it is aiming at.

Strangely, bearing mind the title, the song ‘Words’ could very easily be a Bee Gees composition, melody and even arrangement, but Monahan doesn’t bleat, he sings with utmost force.

For me, too much of the time on this release Pat’s vocal is upfront and full-on. Not that he isn’t up to it, he is one of the best front men around, but a few more relaxed moments would have balanced the set out. Hence by far my favourite track on this CD is  the beachside serenity ode ‘Breakfast In Bed’ and the drums/percussion work sound great here.

Oh and notwithstanding the album name, huge chunks of this set were recorded here in England, at Kensaltown Recording Studios, so there !

Pete Sargeant

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