By Bruce Sylvester
As San Francisco-based Train revs up for its summer tour, it’s putting out an expanded version of its gold 2012 CD "California 37," now with live versions of three of the disc’s singles (“This Will Be My Year,” “When the Fog Rolls In” and double-platinum “Drive By” recorded in their home town) plus studio versions of two songs that didn’t appear on 37 (“To Be Loved” and “Futon”) and a cover of John Lennon’s idealistic “Imagine.”
Fortunately, the engineers knew to not overdo the live cuts’ happy applause’s volume or duration. With “Futon”’s line “Let’s say hypothetically,” we realize how erudite Train is by rock standards.
Coming a full three years after Train’s multi-platinum "Save Me, San Francisco," follow-up "California 37" keeps its sonic palette ever shifting with dance club, acoustic contemporary folk and Latin American snatches handled with enough finesse that they don’t seemed tacked on. There’s only occasional instrumental overkill. The ukulele is the predominant instrument on “Sing Together” (one of several cheery end-of-life songs).
For all his fame and fortune, lead singer/writer Pat Monahan presents himself as a shy guy who thought that love was out of reach. (“I’ll learn to dance if you promise not to laugh.”) The rhymes are fresh (“On the other side of a downward spiral/My love for you went viral.”).
As for songs’ rock references (“grateful wasn’t dead”), deceased musicians abound – but are hardly center stage -- in sweetly philosophical “You Can Finally Meet My Mom.” The opener, “This’ll Be My Year,” recalls Don McLean’s “American Pie.” In contrast to Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover,” Monahan’s co-written “50 Ways To Say Goodbye” proposes multiple lies to tell about how an ex died tragically rather than admit that actually she’s dumped him.
The trio’s songs acknowledge life’s hard knocks. In “Bruises,” Monahan and up-and-comer Ashley Monroe play long-ago high school friends meeting again: “These bruises make for better conversation.” The happy news is that the bruises along California’s Highway 37 (and elsewhere in life) heal.
By the way, Train also has launched “50 Ways to Survive,” a mobile game that’s free for all Android and iOS devices. Proceeds from it go to Family House, a nonprofit providing temporary housing to families of seriously ill children being treated at University of California San Francisco’s Benioff Children’s Hospital. The app is based on the lyrics and video for “50 Ways to Say Goodbye.”
The Train 2013 "Mermaids of Alcatraz" concert tour features special guests. Dates, venues, cities and special guests (if applicable) include:
June 27, 2013: Del Mar Campgrounds, Del Mar, Calif.
July 11, 2013: Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach, Virginia Beach, Calif., iwth Gavin DeGraw and MIchael Franti
July 12, 2013: Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Va., with MIchael Franti
July 13, 2013: Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Darien Center, N.Y., with Gavin DeGraw and Michael Franti
July 14, 2013: Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto, with Gavin DeGraw and Michael Franti
July 17, 2013: Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
July 18, 2013: DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, Mich., with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
July 19, 2013: Klipsch Music Center, Noblesville, Ind., with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
July 20, 2013: Starlight Theater, Kansas City, Mo.
July 21, 2013: First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, Tinley Park, Ill., with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
July 23, 2013: Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, N.Y., with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
July 24, 2013: Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden, N.J., with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
July 26, 2013: Hersheypark Stadium, Hersey, Pa., with The Script and OneRepublic
July 27, 2013: Comcast Center, Mansfield, Mass., with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
July 28, 2013: PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, N.J., with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
July 30, 2013: Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Charlotte, N.C., with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
July 31, 2013: Aarons Amphitheatre At Lakewood, Atlanta, with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
Aug. 2, 2013: The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Spring, Texas, with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
Aug. 3, 2013: Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas, with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
Aug. 6, 2013: Isleta Amphitheater, Albuquerque, N.M., with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
Aug. 7, 2013: Desert Sky Pavilion, Phoenix, with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
Aug. 9, 2013: Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Irvine, Calif., with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
Aug. 10, 2013: Sleep Train Amphitheatre, Wheatland, Calif., with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
Aug. 11, 2013: America's Cup Pavilion, San Francisco, with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
Aug. 13, 2013: Sleep Country Amphitheater, Ridgefield, Wash., with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
Aug. 14, 2013: White River Amphitheatre, Auburn, Wash., with The Script and Gavin DeGraw
Aug. 16, 2013: Iowa State Fair, DesMoines, Iowa
Aug. 29, 2013: Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, Minn.
Aug. 30-31, 2013: Jazz Aspen Snowmass, Aspen, Colo.
Sept. 1, 2013: CAnfield Fairgrounds, Canfield, Ohio