Tag Archives: Train

Singles Roundup – Band Edition: ZBB, The Henningsens, The Band Perry, The Steeldrivers, Train

zac brown band uncaged

Zac Brown Band, “Jump Right In”

“The Southern wind sings again an island lullaby!”  What a fun way to say, “Here’s the token ‘tropical’ single from this ZBB album!” But whatever. It sounds like Mario Party.

Written by Zac Brown, Wyatt Durette, and Jason Mraz

Grade: B

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Henningsens American Beautiful

The Henningsens, “American Beautiful”

The long: It’s awesome to see a two-generation family band score a hit. And the potential is there: the song has a tight melody, and they wrote basically half of The Band Perry’s first album. But they sound like a Lady A tribute band here, and the lyrics are generic to the point of parody. Sorry; I’m tired of odes to That Special Girl – that anonymous one who’s sweet but fiesty! God-fearin’ but hell-raisin’! Pretty in a black dress OR blue jeans! Country as sweet tea!  It feels like a weird, heavy-handed ego stroke for the listener, who is naturally supposed to imagine herself as this exalted Supergirl-next-door. And things don’t get any better when Superguy takes over in the second verse.

The short: It’s called “American Beautiful.”

Written by Brett Beavers, Aaron Henningsen, Brian Henningsen, and Clara Henningsen

Grade: C-

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Band Perry Done

The Band Perry, “Done”

Speaking of them, I’m digging the upgraded ‘tude. This kiss-off can’t touch the craft or creative spark of “Better Dig Two,” but it’s got a dose of the same fire in the performance and production. Hopeful about the album.

Grade: B

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Steeldrivers Hammer Down

The SteelDrivers, “I’ll Be There”

I’m missing the fire from these reliables, though, particularly on a song with so much tasty spite. It kind of plods along; I wish they’d punched up the arrangement and lead vocal a bit. But you can’t argue with the harmonies when they hit the wailin’ B section.

Grade: B-

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Train Bruises

Train featuring Ashley Monroe, “Bruises”

Ohhh, TrainI believe this is crack #3 at the country market? After the Martina duet version of “Marry Me” and that banjo remix of “Hey, Soul Sister”? So many gifts, Train. We thank you.

Actually, I’d be fine if this one did find an audience – and not just because it’s got Ashley Monroe, although there’s no easier way to imbue your record with some extra warmth and humanity. It’s just a feel-good number. The production thumps along pleasantly, the interplay of voices is fun, and the premise feels real and relatable. You can’t take it too seriously, since this is a band that routinely fills sincere songs with lyrics like “Good to see you’re still beautiful; gravity hasn’t started to pull!” or “Leaving you makes me want to cry!” or “Looooses the vibe that separates!” (…?) But there’s still a lot to like.

Written by Patrick Monahan, Espen Lind, and Amund Björklund

Grade: B+

Listen here


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Single Review: Martina McBride featuring Pat Monahan, “Marry Me”

Honestly, I was never a huge fan of this particular Train hit.  The lyric has a few interesting lines, but I couldn’t help but find it a bit schmaltzy and heavy-handed.  Plus it’s like he just met this girl in a cafe, and he’s already getting ready to propose marriage?  I would probably have liked the song better without “If I ever get the nerve to say hello in this cafe.”

So it figures that Martina McBride reworks it into a duet with Train frontman Pat Monahan (after having joined Train for an episode of CMT Crossroads), and I can’t get over how cool they make it sound.

Martina sings the first verse and the first chorus.  Pat sings the second verse and second chorus.  They split the bridge down the middle, and then finally we hear both voices blended together in harmony on the final chorus.  And you know what?  The two of them actually sounds pretty great together.  It may seem like a simple reworking, but it totally changes the way I hear the song.  We get to hear two different perspectives, and then in the harmonized final chorus, it’s as if we’re finally hearing two people come forward with their feelings for one another, after having previously kept such feelings to themselves.  Nothing about this collaboration feels gratuitous – It really does feel like a reinterpretation that adds a new layer to the song.

It’s also worth noting that the acoustic country-meets-coffeehouse-pop arrangement will provide some pleasant respite from the typical country radio bombast.  Overall, this is a strong single choice for McBride, coming on the heels of her first Top 10 hit in half a decade “I’m Gonna Love You Through It.”  It’s one of the many interesting moments on an album that found McBride musically reinvigorated, and that ranked as her best effort in years.

Of course, it’s still the same lyric that I had previously raised an eyebrow over, but sometimes the ideal vocal treatment transcends a song’s lyric.  At the end of the day, it’s the committed, deeply felt vocal performances, not to mention the soft-burning chemistry between the two vocalists, that makes “Marry Me” a memorable record.  Better still, the McBride reworking of “Marry Me” displays a level of unexpected creativity that more mainstream country hits need.

Written by Pat Monahan

Grade:  B+

Listen:  Marry Me


Filed under Single Reviews