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Backstrom - Train Wreck Coming (feat. Bart Topher) (Sunray Shadow)

27 January 2024

“Animal,” my first taste of Backstrom’s music, was the most exciting and intriguing track I have written about in a long time. Yes, I get a lot of music landing on my desk, but most of it is easily compartmentalized; most of it sounds much the same as a lot of other music swirling around the contemporary musical landscape. “Animal” was genuinely different. “Animal” was a taste of the other. It’s a song that exists outside of geography, genre, and even era. Dropping the digital needle onto this second virtual record was something I, therefore, did with a mixture of anticipation and wonder.

“Train Wreck Coming,” as the title hints, finds Backstrom in more country climes, but again, such sweeping statements, when applied to his music at least, need to be further unpicked. Yes, it is an upbeat and buoyant slice of old-school country rock and roll, but plenty of gospel harmonies are arrayed behind the lead vocal and breezy brass flits through, adding a soulful touch to proceedings. These additions might not help place the music stylistically in time, but they do suggest “not-the-here-and-now as a label.

But, perhaps most it is the apocalyptic vibe to the lyrics, a sense of dread on the horizon, a portent of doom for which the train is a brilliant metaphor, that sets the song apart from the pack. Yes, it conjures images of trains and pain and house fires and prayers to the lord, but the disaster being spoken of feels more metaphysical and menacing than anything that you can actually point a finger at.

Throw in some blues guitar licks, country drum shuffles, and his slightly Waitsian vocal, and you have another standout track.