2018 – Ruf Records
By Phillip Smith; March 2, 2018
Victor Wainwright, one of my favorite keyboardists playing the Blues today, has released a spectacular new album with his new backing band, The Train. Making up The Train is drummer Billy Dean, bassist Terrence Grayson, and guitarist Pat Harrington. This album features a dozen original songs from Wainwright which ranges from barrelhouse blues to boogie-woogie. No matter what he’s playing, it’s performed with precision and soul.
Wainwright’s lush keys and ominous lyrics stand tall on “Wilshire Grave” as it sinks its claws in. A seductive hook, the growling trumpet of Doug Woolverton, and the backing vocals of Reba Russell make this song the embodiment of cool. With a bluesy Randy Newman vibe, “Dull Your Shine” emits a message of positivity as it reinforces the characteristic of individuality. There hasn’t been a better song about debt collection than “Money”. Wainwright’s piano prowess is quite amazing and Harrington’s guitar performance is terrific. “Thank You Lucille” is a wonderful homage to the great B.B. King. In a fitting tribute, guitarist Monster Mike Welch seemingly channels the man himself. A slow-burn start on “Sunshine” breaks into a rejoicing Phish-phriendly jam with tiny nods to the great Frank Zappa. Harrington’s smokin’ guitar performance coupled with Billy Dean’s amazing drum fills put a gigantic smile on my face.
Victor Wainwright and the Train is one stellar record, and certainly deserves to be heard.
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Also reviewed on Phillycheeze’s Rock & Blues Reviews