Kalli - Last Train Home - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Kalli - Last Train Home

by Priscilla Eyles Rating:1 Release Date:2011-08-08

This second effort from the former lead singer of Icelandic band Without Gravity, released on Björk's label One Little Indian seems promising; expanding on the hint of acoustic country influences in his first album While the City Sleeps. Recorded in Nashville, Tennessee it wears its influences on its sleeves, sounding like a homage to Neil Young (at his most countrified), Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Bob Dylan (particularly Slow Train Coming era Dylan) The Eagles and The Band to name a few.

Unfortunately the result is not half as exciting as it should be. Instead it sounds sentimental, trite and banal: alt-country-lite. Like popular Christian music without the Christian lyrics, or the insipid songs aspiring young people sing in musicals, which are meant to show how genuinely talented they are. There is something quite irritating about his voice too which seems a little too self-consciously over-sincere.

The lyrics are pretty bad, as if they were taken from the first poems/songs he wrote at school when given the assignment to write something sad. Take this meaningless rhyming couplet: "I'm waiting to cross the line/ But I've been running out of time" on 'Dark Horse Back', or "Then my heart was imprisoned/ Frozen solid in my shade of blue/ 'Til there was you" on 'Laurel Canyon' (yes, even the song titles are clichéd). Or what about this well-worn platitude: "I'm in a crowd but I've never felt so alone" on 'Shine on Me' (the most Dylan-lite song). I mean really? Who's he kidding? Justin Bieber could write more meaningful lyrics.

The music tries so hard to stick to its country-folk palette that the songs start to sound the same. There's the inevitable mandolin, accordion, fiddle and brush work, and in nearly every song some obligatory slide guitar which really doesn't add anything. And so the album plods along making no lasting impact whatsoever, apart from an irritation like a dozy fly that keeps buzzing in your room early in the morning. The song 'Nothing at All' with its appropriate chorus ("You don't feel nothing at all" - you're spot on there Kalli) sums up the awfulness of the album, with its chorus auto-programmed to be 'anthemic' and 'rousing'. This really is a lesson in how easy it is to turn good elements and influences into something that is pure hokum.

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