For her Bottom Line Records debut, singer/songwriter Susan Werner offers a collection of tales of patience and knowledge. With various styles and tempos -- from the gentle patterns of "Old Mistake" and "Sorry About Jesus" to the highlander twirl of "Standing in My Own Way," the Basia/Swing Out Sister pop of "Bring Round the Boat," and the island sway of "Petaluma Afternoons" -- Time Between Trains also features sounds reminiscent of Steve Winwood and John Scofield. Though a young artist, Werner appears not to be the type to sit idly by and wait for things to happen. As a result, much of the album deals with overcoming the aggravations of delay and inertia. While the title track deals with waiting for love, "Boat" tells stories of love-wronged women going out on their own. "Courting the Muse" is an appropriate account of the foibles of musical inspiration, while "Like Bonsai" speaks of the frustrations of being held back by other outside forces. As depicted in songs such as "Old Mistake," "Jesus," and "Can't Let You In," another theme of the album is that of the wisdom and edification that come only after the fact and the pain that can result from past loss and regret. Nowhere is this motif more poignantly explored than in both of the final offerings -- a heart-rending version of Don McLean's tragic classic "Vincent" (about the misunderstood and prematurely ended life of Van Gogh) and a theatrically peppy "bonus track" in which Werne considers and then rejects the possibilities of documenting her own life. In Werner's latest song cycle, life seems to be composed of waiting for things to happen and then regretting the results. Fortunately, Werner has a talent for promoting pessimism with insightful beauty.
Time Between Trains Review
by Matthew Robinson