Patrick O. Sammons & The Columnist. Town of Trains.
The Columnist, 2013.
The Columnist is a group containing solo artist Patrick O. and Brandon Sammons, and friends from around Texas. The group came together in 2009 and has been playing and working together sporadically since then. Their first album, Extra! Extra! from 2011, had a dreamy folk-rock sound that pulled together great instrumentation and lyrics. For this album, Town of Trains brings the quality, but in a slightly new form.
The album starts out with Arrival, including big sound, train whistles, and no lyrics. This short track leads into another short track, Millionaire, that is reminiscent of Justin Townes Earle and adds lyrics on a classic directional mic and lower tones of the string spectrum. June/Eventually extends their song length and gives more time to develop a more full story, while continuing to add more layers of complexity on their established base. Segueing with a snare drum beat and bell tolling, Soldier’s Mail is plaintive, crisp, and clean; solid technically and with a story to which we can all relate. Spider (Feed on Me) slows down the beat and fills the air with more gorgeous melodies and layers. Changing things up a bit, Conclusions is no end to the album, but a definite transition in the sound, as if someone flipped a switch on the tracks. Saxophone joins in at a couple of points, for more of a smooth jazz feel that mingles with sound-play in this track. Crime of Passion has a throwback sound and rough-around-the-edges lyrics. It may seem an odd fit for the rest of the album, but it’s an interesting break to hear the variety that one group can show. The duet sections in Make Believe are sweet and endearing, while the music is comfortable and soon becomes recognizable. Stay Out of My Bed is slow and melancholic, mildly depressing on a rainy weekend day, but turns around about half way through to be something very different, almost reaching whimsical for a few moments before coming back down at the end. Catch That Train has some great effects on sounds, and a few points in the song change the over all feel, as if this track should have had multiple parts as well. Finishing the album, Caged Birds/Departure is melodic and light, with smooth sounds and refreshing harmonies again, leaving the album on a high note.
Personnel: Patrick Sammons, Janie Cowan, Brandon Sammons, Kyle Kastner, Mark Pillion, and Mary Otto
Tracks: Arrival, Millionaire, June/Eventually, Soldier’s Mail, Spider (Feed on Me), Conclusions, Crime of Passion, Make Believe, Stay Out of My Bed, Catch That Train, Caged Birds/Departure