Sunday, November 22, 2009

Muchacha Motorista certainly isn't going to cry over this Spilt Milk.

Kristina Train - Spilt Milk
CD review by Muchacha Motorista

I should note right off that I’m writing from San Diego on a sunny, clear November day. I’m in love with my soulmate and am enjoying of my life. So while I can appreciate Kristina Train’s Spilt Milk as a soulful mixture of depth and youthfulness, it isn’t quite as moving as if I were listening to it heart-broken or on a rainy day.

This isn’t to say I can’t acknowledge her lush, earthy voice that lends weight to the sorrowful lyrics. Many of her lyrics are the essential bare-bones of despair, and I can appreciate that too.

Her title track, "Spilt Milk," is the highlight of the album. It serves as a denial of the cliches people say to cheer others up, arguing that this only serves to negate the emotions we should be entitled to feel. “So don’t say I’m crying over spilt milk again,” she argues, “Don’t say I’ll bounce back, cause I won’t.” Instead of sounding pouty, the force behind her voice makes her sound empowered by not fearing her own feelings.

On the flip side, I’m not crazy about "You’re Still Going to Lose." The desperation here leans toward covering up emotions by pretending things are good, the opposite of "Spilt Milk," and it ends up sounding a little pathetic. “I know what I’m missing, but I’d rather just ignore it,” she sings. “I’ll keep on pretending. And then you give your heart to me.” I prefer the strength of knowing yourself in "Spilt Milk," and "No Man’s Land."

"No Man’s Land" offers up hope of rising out of the depths along with the willingness to wait for that to happen. She starts out trying to drown out despair, but falls deeper, and she’s not sure if she’ll make it. “I’m saying I can’t move on, stumbling around, hanging on but going down.” The melody rises toward the end and the lyrics get more optimistic. “I will rise to start again, I have no doubt. But I just don’t know when.” Now, if "You’re Still Going to Lose" came sandwiched between "Spilt Milk" and "No Man’s Land," it might make sense as a chronology of dealing with loss. But it comes way too late in the album for that.

In fact, a lot of this album is about sorrow--not loss, but how we deal with loss. In "I Can’t But Help," she appreciates a moment in time, even if will be inevitably followed by something difficult. "Call In The Maker" is about calling for help in despair, and setting realistic expectations for healing.

"Far From The Country" feels out of place. It could be the start of the album’s story, the prelude to what was lost. Unfortunately though, it is the end of the album. She appreciates their love when they are together (“Everything’s fine when I’m seeing your face, and it feels like I’m already home”), but they aren’t close by and so she asks herself, “Why does this love feel so blue?”

There are only two songs (other than "You’re Still Going to Lose") that I just don’t much care for on this album. "Don’t Beg For Love" is a sweet sentiment; she’s breaking up with her lover and “I’m tired but I’m still here, and I’m not yours anymore.” She tries to encourage him to feel what he feels and not to lower himself into begging to be taken back (“Just smile as you’re burning up. You’ll find somebody. Don’t beg for love.”). So the lyrics are alright, and the idea is good. I am simply not feeling the sax or the bold chorus in the background. Per the lyrics, her position should be stronger in this song, or sympathetic. Not despairing. Not like the other songs.

The other disappointing song is "It’s Over Now." The lyrics just sound childish to me. It makes sense, since she’s supposedly drunk dialing an ex (“I wouldn’t have called if it weren’t for that last drink”). But it just sounds too cliche to be on an otherwise deep album. For example: “So I’m a child. It takes one to know one. But anyway, kids shouldn’t drink.” Really? On the same album as lyrics like “The silence before the sermon hooks its claws through the bone,” it just doesn’t compare.

This album has definite merits. Blues fans will really enjoy the feel of Train’s sound and freshness of her voice. For basic music fans, those that can enjoy something from almost every genre, the dark sound fits best on gloomy days.


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