I have been extremely lucky in the music that has been sent to me thus far. I have heard some new bands that I dug, I have been given the opportunity to review local bands I know and love, and in the case of The Marshall Pass, I get to review a band that made me say “Holy sh*t that is some great music”.
Never before, have I heard a somewhat somber, sorrowful sounding record with so many colors and deep levels to it. I don’t know the band personally, but after listening to the record I feel a personal connection to the gents. From what I gather the back story of the project was in memoriam to a lost friend. The entire record illustrates that very well. Each and every note and part is artistically and professionally placed. Craig Rawding’s vocals are just enough, not too much, but still have that “this guy is a pro” sound to them, this is something that Nashville should be paying attention to and take note. Mixed with the plethora of instruments Duncan Arsenault adds to the mix creates a palate of loss, distress, and the hopefulness that maybe things will get better. They have to, right?
Stand out tracks, well all are pretty stand out. Track 2, Blue and Gray has a driving through country roads and through a mountain pass kind of a feel. The follow up track, Boot Hill Bound, has a bit of a delta blues feel to me, a lot of great finger picking type work, a bit swampy, and brings you for a ride traversing through the troubles a man led to the drink. Except, it doesn’t end well for this character and he spends his life running from his troubles. The repeated line “I’m not paying the mortgage anymore” followed up by “keep that pound of flesh they can suck it to the marrow” with a delivery with such conviction that I believe he really isn’t going to pay his bills. The closing track Redemption Hill is a slow moving waltz and great conclusion to the 7 track work. A story of a man who feels he may have strayed too far to be forgiven in the end. The final line being sung in a choral fashion to add closure a fantastic collection of tunes.
The record as a complete work flows extremely well. It’s a comprehensive story that feels purposeful and not just a handful of the best songs cherry picked from a bunch that the duo wrote. With hints of blues, folk, rock and roots music, Arsenault and Rawding present a truly soulful and meaningful work with ‘Phantom Train’. It’s a cozy blanket that wraps you up in front of the fireplace on a cold, melancholy New England day and somehow warms you despite all that is going on outside in the world. I will surely revisit this EP again and again. This is the kind of stuff that is straight up my alley. The music really took me to a place and I think thats exactly what The Marshall Pass set out to do with this EP.
Check out The Marshall Pass’s EP Phantom Train on bandcamp at: