Saturday, September 23, 2006

Westbound Train--Searching for a Melody (2003)

Artist-Westbound Train
Album-Searching for a Melody
Release Date-Sep 2003
Genre/Style-Ska Revival/Contemporary Reggae

Review-by Rick Anderson The Stubborn Records label makes its welcome return to activity with this impressive debut album by Westbound Train, a ska and rocksteady band with roots in Boston and New Jersey. Led by trombonist and singer Obi Fernandez, Westbound Train deal primarily in smoothly swinging old-school grooves of the pre-reggae and early reggae variety, generally steering equally clear of the galloping up-up-up of traditional ska and the smoky mysticism of the roots period. These are all romantic songs: on "Carlene," Fernandez sings in a suave, laid-back voice that contrasts nicely with the lyrics' heartbroken plea, while his bandmates harmonize doo wop-style behind him and swing the proceedings with a gentle but fully assured groove; "Don't Cry" is a sturdy midtempo ska number that defies the object of the singer's former affections not to dance even as it invites her to leave. The syrupy-slow reggae rhythm of the title track frames a sweetly lovelorn lyric, which Fernandez sings almost — but not quite — perfectly in tune (nice falsetto, though). Highly recommended overall. [The album was reissued in 2003 on Megalith Records.]


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