Tom Flannery,
Song About a Train
(KikoMusic, 1998)

On his CD Song About a Train, Tom Flannery employs a multitude of song styles and creates an authentic feeling that his heart is coming through on each song.

Showcasing his Irish heritage, he delves into the lives and love lost during the mid-to-late 1840s Irish famine ("Marie's Song") and the often unseen but always felt connections to the past -- whether it be to a land or a people, or both ("When You Pass Me By").

"Blame It On The Death Of Charles Kuralt," the best song title of 1998, is a paean to the quality and worthiness of the life of the ordinary Joe who pays his bills on time and raises his family right. Yet because of this, he never makes the tabloid covers or the the television talk shows. This song serves as an understated antidote to these shrines we tend to build for the most dysfunctional in society.

Capturing the societal losses and the effect on individuals and families involved when union-breaking occurs, Flannery lays into the companies that dominate towns and then depart for greener ($$$) pastures -- leaving townspeople flat -- in "Johnson's Station."

"Feel Like Coming Home" is a tribute to the human connections, still present in small towns, that cauterize the wounds of road weary travelers. It's a gentle song that takes some effective shots at the "progress" of modern society. "Angeline" is an effective heartfelt lament to unacknowledged lost love. As Flannery says in his liner notes, "There is something both uplifting and sad about blind faith."

The targetless enemy who swallows up farms and land is effectively portrayed in "Pettigrew." As a landowner tries to take a stand and fight back, the sheriff tells him "the men you're looking for, they ain't got no name ... they just filter through like dirty rain."

Overall, this is a sharp debut CD. Flannery has a lot to say about the merits of the unspectacular, small-town life and the interwoven lives of the inhabitants, and he does it well here. His voice and delivery often seem understated, but this effectively draws the listener in to the lyrics and content of each song.

Additionally, a nice touch in his liner notes is the song title followed by a sentence or two about each song -- its inspiration or dedication.

[ by Kevin McCarthy ]