Album Review: Kristina Train – Spilt Milk

From the opening notes of the title track on Kristina Train’s debut album, Spilt Milk, you anticipate Norah Jones. The feeling lingers as Train’s vocal begins the first verse but comparisons start to diminish when she hits the chorus. Kristina Train is her own woman with a powerful, soulful voice, an individuality, and moments of real subtlety. Smoothly velvet at times, yet with a husky overtone and more than a hint of rasp, her vocal is controlled and she knows when to let rip and when to let it all just lap over you.

Spilt Milk is as assured a debut as they come. Train is keeping good company, enlisting in-demand British producer, Jimmy Hogarth, songwriter/arranger, Eg White, and recording in London. Hogarth has worked notably with Duffy, Corinne Bailey Rae, and James Blunt. White was a Grammy nominee for Adele’s “Chasing Pavements” and co-wrote most of the material on Spilt Milk. Ed Harcourt is another buzz-name collaborator, contributing to two songs including the expressive “Far From the Country” which closes the album.

Currently there’s not a lot out there about Kristina Train. A single page website and a scarcely over-visited MySpace site suggests a low-key marketing approach to date. Born in New York, Train was raised in Savannah, Georgia, and the bluesy, soulful Deep South is fully reflected in her music. Spotted at 19, she traveled up to New York to audition for Blue Note.  A deal was put on ice while Train went to college first, a tough decision which the singer reckons was the right one.  Blue Note waited, and now 27, we see a mature and confident performer whose work has benefited from being taken slowly. “I always had a feeling that music wouldn’t just be in my life,” says Train. “It would be my life.”

The whole album oozes class, from the plaintiff title track to the big production numbers, “Don’t Remember” and “It’s Over Now.”  The songs are consistently good and flow smoothly from one to the next. The slick production may augur a homogenous product but the songs are real growers and their individuality prospers with repeat listens. I especially liked “Waltzing Back” which has a lazy, laid back feel and strong, immediate melody and also enjoyed the gospel tones of “I Can’t But Help”.

Aptly named, Spilt Milk would have seen the light of day much earlier in the year but for a digital disaster, allegedly on Friday the 13th, which saw much of the recorded material wiped! It was worth the wait. Echoes of the past are skilfully blended into a contemporary output. Urbane, lush, sultry, classic, with hints of Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, and Carole King in her style and approach to music, Kristina Train already has lived up to a lot.

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Spilt Milk

Spilt Milk


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