Last Train Home,
Last Good Kiss
(Red Beet, 2007)

Based on their album/jacket notes, Last Train Home took the plunge a few years ago. They were a most-of-the-time band out of Washington, D.C., but in 2003 they relocated to Nashville to be a full-time band. Last Good Kiss is the fruit of that move as well as an enormous effort to improve their music. And let me tell you, this album is a succulent fruit, ripe with great sound and vibrant energy.

And "vibrant" it certainly is -- simply put the CD in and it hits you over the head with the title track. Electric guitarist Steve Wedemeyer kicks the album off in high gear, with everyone else jumping right in at full-steam-ahead. It's like a relay race where each runner stays along with the baton and adds their energy to the previous one. The lyrics of the song may sing about struggle, but these guys make it sound so easy (not to mention fun). That energy is a constant throughout this album; even in the slower-paced tracks, there is still an inherent fervor that permeates in every note, strum, whisper or keystroke.

Last Train Home is clearly a seasoned band (10 years and still going strong) that knows how to showcase both its combined and individual talents. "I'm Coming Home" is a great example of this, in which they actually layer and overlap each other's work, building to a pleasantly understated crescendo, just to spotlight keyboardist Jen Gunderman to finish out the song. She's also given a similar treatment on the contemplative "Go Now," with even the lead vocals acting as a support role along with the bass and drums.

Speaking of lead vocals: Eric Brace's vocals are gripping, injected with an interesting blend of cool energy and subtlety (especially in "Flood," "May" and "Kissing Booth"). He could work alone and probably do an OK job of it, but he plays up to his band's strengths, and vice versa. Jim Gray on bass is ever-present in the album, like a musical Atlas supporting Last Train Home's world; however, he does get a chance to shine (and does an amazing job at it) in "Kissing Booth." And if Martin Lynds's work on drums doesn't prove itself throughout the album, just check out the final track, "The Color Blue," for a great percussion performance.

Last Good Kiss is one of those no-brainer kinds of albums with a wide variety of pacing in its songs with a consistent and entertaining sound. It's a CD that, while you're enjoying listening to it, you also know that the folks that made it enjoyed making it for you. So, do just that, and enjoy.

review by
C. Nathan Coyle

5 January 2008

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