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For Me, It's You

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Album Review

Train is one of the stranger cases in pop music. While they've been ubiquitous on radio since 2001's smash single "Drops of Jupiter" and have sold literally millions of albums, they are still considered by many to be an outsider act; they fit nowhere handy on the pop culture radar screen. Despite a sound as quintessentially American as the Counting Crows', and 11 years of slogging it out in bars, theaters, and concert halls, they seem to get very little respect. For Me, It's You is the band's third studio offering with producer, multi-instrumentalist, and co-conspirator Brendan O'Brien. Indeed, O'Brien is so closely identified with the band's sound on tape, he is basically a member. The sound of For Me, It's You is less strident than that of the band's previous offerings, but it's edgier and digs deeper into older musics and styles; O'Brien's filled the spaces with sometimes gritty textures. There's more blues and R&B in its feel. Frontman and chief songwriter Patrick Monahan doesn't feel he has to make you believe the authenticity of his emotions; he believes they're real and it's enough. But more than this, he and the band play looser than they ever have in the past, and he's become a solid singer. He doesn't always have the authority to pull off what he tries, but that's part of the album's charm.

The set's first single, "Cab," is the first-person witness of a New York cabbie, accompanied by a piano part that's worthy of one of Billy Joel's finest songs, painterly synth, strummed acoustic guitars, and a killer string arrangement. The report from the driver's seat is both inner and outer. As he observes what transpires through his windshield, he looks deeper at his inner weather. When Monahan sings, "Sometimes, I think I'm the only cab on the road," he's believable. It's a fine song, but it's not the best one here. The polished, full-bodied "Give Myself to You" eclipses it by virtue of its brief R&B-drenched bridge alone, but there's more, too. As the sequenced keyboard line quotes the refrain, the hook is established. Monahan tries his hand at a little covert white-boy R&B singing, and he does it well enough to make the listener wonder why he hasn't tried it before — when he sings "I'm either outta my head or outta my mind," one can hear him dig deeper into something he doesn't quite understand intellectually, but gets to a degree on the feeling level. This isn't a mistake; he tries it again on "Shelter Me," where he evokes both Steve Marriott and Chris Robinson (the band's new bassist, Johnny Colt, came from the Black Crowes). The tune doesn't quite work with all of its overblown backing vocals and textural dimensions that swallow the glorious Hammond B3 in it.

There's also the bridge in "Always Remember" where Monahan's vocal succeeds in saving an otherwise saccharine melody. "I'm Not Waiting in Line" shows Monahan trying on Mick Jagger's skin-tight pants. The tune sounds like the latter half of "Gimme Shelter," which was its model in sonics and groove. The hand percussion, piano, and Jimmy Stafford's lead phrasing are dead giveaways. Train does a credible read of Bob Mould's (remember Sugar?) "If I Can't Change Your Mind." The guitars twang and ring — though not quite roar — but the Hammond carries the day on top of a dirty tub thump. The slippery slow, bluesy stroll of the title track closes the set. This is the best kind of love song because it doesn't need to prove anything. It's loose, slippery, and feels raw. The classic "na-na-nana-na-nana-na" refrain, the greasy guitars, the chorus-like backing vocals and horns all give Monahan a ledge to slip out onto. And he does, bringing to the fore every hungry rock singer from Marriott's and Phil Lynott's ghosts to the young Jagger's and Rod Stewart's in his impassioned delivery. Ultimately, it's difficult to know who will embrace For Me, It's You. Critics have savaged their other outings, and it made no difference to radio or consumers. If the past is any indication, it'll be the dictate of the record's success or failure. Their willingness to bet the farm and grow as a band is commendable in an era where playing it safe is everything — and ultimately nothing.

Customer Reviews

Overlooked, why?

I'd like to draw your attention to a great track that's not mentioned in the official description. All I ever Wanted seems like a pretty generic song at first, but the chorus; "No more, hold on, we can make it. No more holding each other wwhile the words all break it" is absolutely magical. The guitar is amazing and, during the last chorus there is such a cool drumline that it makes me want to listen to it again and again. This song and Cab are my top 2 picks from this album. Great stuff!

Train is amazing, according to everyone i know!

I love train's album, For Me, it's You. I love All I Ever Wanted, Cab, If I Can't Change Your Mind, All I hear, and much more. They started in San Fransisco, my favorite city. They have distinguished music, and what i mean is that there isnt a music category that really fits their music. They have some rock and pop, and just something else that makes them amazing!!!!!

Good Stuff...

Train never fails to put out good quality stuff. They arent gonna reach outside they're typical sound barrier. but thats okay. thats why we like them. this is not they're best work, but its what we look for when we think Train. Its a must-have for any true train fan

Biography

Formed: 1994 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Train was inescapable during the turn of the 21st century, when songs like "Calling All Angels" and "Drops of Jupiter" made the San Francisco residents some of America's most popular balladeers. Although formed during the glory days of post-grunge, the group found more success in the pop/rock world, where Train straddled the line between adult contemporary and family-friendly alternative rock. The hits began drying up after 2003, but Train continued releasing...
Full Bio