John Train

Angels Turned Thieves

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The Philadelphia group John Train lashes Jon Houlon's sharp, poignant songcraft to folk and country instrumentation (featuring dobro, fiddle, and mandolin). The secret weapons here, however, are the lyrics; in fact, the warm, rootsy sound almost serves as a red herring for Houlon's acute poetical sense. Consider how the unlisted title track spins the tale of Jimmie Rodgers' suffering. The song opens with "Imagine if you will a consumptive young man/Set sail from Galveston to the northland/Downed a shot of whiskey and chewed on a lime/And leaned into the microphone for the last time." It then culminates in a vivid picture of complete dissolution: "The last tour was ugly/They played the worst rooms, his lungs torn to pieces, his voice filled with doom/One night in Dallas he fell to his knees opened his mouth and started to bleed." Angels Turned Thieves reveals John Train as a band to be reckoned with, hitting the listener with ear-pleasing instrumentation and the visceral impact of powerful songwriting.

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