Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pat Monahan - The Last Of Seven

Over the course of four studio albums, Train has become nothing if not predictable. Listeners are going to get jangly guitars, mid-tempo beats, occasionally goofy lyrics, and a relatively pleasant overall experience. Their most recent albums have not been anything overly memorable, but they do manage to keep your foot tapping and your mouth humming along. On his first solo album, The Last of Seven, Train frontman Pat Monahan does his best to separate himself from the successful Train formula. He succeeds at times, but overall, this feels like something you have heard before.

If The Last of Seven were not branded as a solo album, most listeners would be inclined to think it was a new Train album. The first few tracks, including lead single “Her Eyes” bounce along nicely and bring to mind past Train songs such as “She’s On Fire” or “Get To Me”, but it’s not until the fourth track, “Someday”, with its backing gospel choir that Monahan starts to set his solo work apart from his band. “Ooh My My” is the kind of dirty blues-rock track that Monahan’s voice was made for. “Raise Your Hands” features both the aforementioned gospel choir, a synthesizer, and programmed beats that feel slightly out of place on the album, but aptly serve a purpose for Monahan in establishing that this is not a Train album.

As The Last of Seven moves along, Monahan keeps returning to the familiar Train sound, “Always Midnight” would have fit in nicely with the rest of the tracks on Drops of Jupiter, and while the album does not suffer, it doesn’t do a whole lot to make itself special. There is a nice duet with Brandi Carlisle, “Pirate On The Run”, that seems destined for chick flick soundtrack next summer, but there are few other tracks that will stick with you.

Taken as a whole, The Last Of Seven is slightly disappointing. While “Her Eyes”, “Ooh My My”, and “Pirate On The Run” feel like keepers, the rest of the album is at times boring and is planted firmly in the middle of the road. Last Of Seven is never flat out bad and the best songs do show the potential that lies within, but that vision is never fully realized and ultimately, I was left unmoved.

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