Kristina Train at Bush Hall
Kristina Train has quietly been gaining notoriety since the release of her 2009 début album: Spilt Milk. The set was an impressive collection of songs about love and loss, and although Train’s arrangements and vocals were impressive, they were not entirely memorable. Her influences, including Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin and Joni Mitchell, were clear and well respected. However, it was then slightly difficult to pinpoint her particular charm.
Train is currently performing a series of intimate, live gigs to celebrate the release of her new album: Dark Black. The first of these, in London, is at Bush Hall in Shepherd’s Bush. An unassuming venue, it is one part village hall, three parts The Shining-esque ballroom, with a kitsch glitterball hanging among the chandeliers, and soft purple light bouncing off the walls.
Joining her band on-stage – including musical hero, Ed Harcourt – Train looked both graceful and benign, wearing a neck-to-ankle black dress, and with her long black hair sweeping across her face as she sang. The audience was made up of devoted fans, cheering and whistling proudly as she leapt into Dream of Me, a bouncing, Ronettes-like song. Her voice glided through the room, over the drums, accompanied by a projection of a grainy Super-8 film.
Kristina and her band proceeded to play an hour of tracks from Dark Black; the songs were uplifting – letting her voice rise and flow during the choruses of I Wanna Live In LA, and a surprising cover of The Stranglers’ Golden Brow – and also delicate and heartbreaking. The latter songs, Saturdays Are The Greatest, January, Stick Together and especially Everloving Arms, for which she was joined by the quivering sound of the musical saw and a steel drum, were the high points of the evening. Kristina Train’s voice was quite perfect, gently husky and rich; she was entirely at the service of her music.
Similarly, her band didn’t put a foot wrong. Special praise must go to the two guitarists, who had the opportunity to perform Queen-like solos, woozy Southern slide-guitar, and Hawaiian steel-sounding backing music.
What laid the most pleasing groundwork for the terrific set was Train’s humility and diffidence. After each song, receiving a torrent of applause, she appeared quite overwhelmed, thanking the audience as profusely as they had thanked her. Her aw-shucks Southern gal charm was infectious, and gave the night – like her albums – an endearing clarity. She sang songs of great lucidity and enjoyment, about loss, heartbreak, or just wanting to live in the big city.
Train is hugely talented, her production is unpretentious and precise, and it would be a shame to miss her live. This is popular music you’d be happy to be selling by the millions.
Photos: Adam Imiolo
For further information on Kristina Train visit her official website.
Watch the music video for Dream Of Me here