Tony Joe White

The Train I'm On

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Tony Joe White's second Warner Bros. album is an awesome, exquisite musical jewel and a departure from most of the attributes for which he is best known, from songs like "Polk Salad Annie." Acoustic textured for much of its length and built on a close, intimate sound overall, The Train I'm On is permeated with the dark side of White's usual swamp rock sound, filled with songs about unsettled loves and lives, and men caught amid insoluble situations. Betraying surprising vulnerability for much of its length, even on songs like "If I Ever Saw a Good Thing" and "300 Pounds of Hongry" (among the few full band numbers here, with a gorgeous sax solo by Charles Chalmers on the former), he shows off an emotional complexity that wasn't always obvious on his earlier work, only really cutting loose boldly on "Even Trolls Love Rock and Roll" and a tiny handful of other cuts. The rest is dark, pensive, soulful bluesy rock, highlighted by some bristling acoustic guitar work (check out "As the Crow Flies") and superb singing throughout ("The Migrant" is worth the price of admission by itself). [The album was reissued in 2002 by Sepia Tone with new annotation, in a beautifully remastered mid-price edition.]

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