Review by Janine Veazue
I’ve never been a huge fan of the group uniform when it comes to rockabilly or western swing bands. There’s just something about a group of men all wearing the same neatly pressed honky-tonk shirts that unpacks repressed memories of dance recital costume trauma. This isn’t saying, however, that Rhythm Train’s wardrobe assistants should be the downfall of the sweet satisfaction that Back on Track (Raucous Records) brings to my ears.
It’s not that Rhythm Train insists on centering their lyrics around the cliche topics of drinking, women, and music that I love so much, it’s the way in which they use those cliches to epitomize the American western tradition. They don’t like their drinks hard and fast, but sing as if they were a guilty vice (” The girl on my left is looking better every beer “). They don’t want their women fast and dirty, but devoted and beautiful (” saved a place in my heart for your warm sweet embrace “).
The band hails from Switzerland, and lead guitar and vocal master Urs Odermatt consistently teeters between yodel and twang, yet keeps his talents on the straight and narrow. This switching through the album’s 17 tracks creates a fantastic feeling of true, solid, manly sorrow and celebration. Although it is obvious that it attempts to mimic the American musical tradition of rockabilly, it does so without mocking or attempting perfection. Simple, honest music, coming from men who, at times, seem a little overdressed for the occasion.