Railroad Earth | “Captain Nowhere” | Review

Article Contributed by David Atchley | Published on Friday, January 12, 2018

Railroad Earth’s, “Captain Nowhere,” falls like a beautiful tear on the tumultuous face of humanity.  Exposing a wonderful maturity throughout, Todd, Tim, John, Andy, and Andrew each freely offer one another all the space they need to create a multidimensional experience, while at the same time bringing about a singular effect.  I marveled over, and deeply appreciated, the openness in which this small sample of songs (6) was delivered.  Not afraid to look directly at what ails us, Railroad Earth sees right past the pettiness of issue in adding their voice, and touch that place within each of us that recognizes the deeper causes of today’s symptoms.  I couldn’t help but feel the music rising out of the depths of time—time with one another, time on the road, time with the fans, (they molding us, we molding them) each of us growing together over the years as we reach for the gold ring down inside.  This album couldn’t be a better expression of what’s at the band’s core in a beautifully simplistic manner.  I found myself welling over as some part of me kept opening up throughout the ride, from somewhere deep, profound.  Was it the music? Was it what they had to say? Or was it that Captain Nowhere reveals all?

Railroad Earth

Opening with, “Blazin’ A Trail”, Tim and Andy immediately take us down the locomotive tracks with violin and banjo wheels a-spinnin', putting us on the run, busting us out.  From what?  A jail of our own defining? Physicality itself?  We have to wonder as, “Only By the Light,” puts an immediate stop to our sense of fleeing and sets us down by a serene pond, where we look to a sky of both meaning and being.  Contained by Tim’s violin, with gentle, melodic undertones occasionally rising to the surface in guitar and mandolin, Andrew bares all as we feel his cry for a better world, a better place . . . and we cry out with him.

Without a misstep, Todd adds to the dialogue in, “Addin’ My Voice,” and what a voice he has become.  Touching on sounds that made me think, “Black Bear,” Todd sings about a very different beast, offering an almost ironic delivery considering the peace the music offers and the disgust referenced.  Yes!  We’re all tired of this ridiculousness.  Can we please move on?  Lead the way, guys!  We’re with you.

Todd Sheaffer | Railroad Earth

Allowing us time to ponder, we are next taken through the instrumental arrangement, “Berkeley Flash.”  This song could not have been more appropriately named, or delivered.  Taking us for a pleasant stroll through the forest of sound, we are happy to point out each note and part as the musical landscape unfolds before us.  I felt as if I was listening to six different songs being played at once, each with their own concert hall, their own expression . . . then suddenly, we’re slapped together, and we’re all in the same raft as we float the river.  Breaking things up mid-song, Tim grabs us, rolls us over a few times, and releases us unto an unfolding of string, piano and percussion, which immediately expands into the wonderful everywhere of note and chord. Tim then reappears to neatly wrap things up, almost as if he were saying, “Did that really happen?”  I don’t know Tim, you tell me . . . preferably live at the next show.

We couldn’t be better prepared for, “Raven’s Child,” than we are when struck by an oriental opening in which to deliver not a legend as one might think, but rather, our truth.  In the midst of a fabulously haunting musical score, Todd’s voice offers great comfort as he points the way.  Simply put, we are the eyes of the world, we only need to become what we are . . . then we’ll see the world with the eyes of itself.  This is awakening!

Railroad Earth

Hey, “Captain Nowhere,” where ARE we going to?  Mutiny on the train tracks?  Yes! Slavery’s not over, just taken another form, another people.  Yet truth cannot be contained, and it will shake the very heavens apart to remain free.  The Captain’s countenance is formed with subtle ambiance and driving force.  Do you feel the waves?  The truth in their expression?  Railroad Earth means this one.  Ship of fools, anyone?

While I understand the limitations of a studio album for a live band, Railroad Earth appears to have easily stretched those boundaries by planting seeds that left this listener thinking, “Boy, I’d sure like to hear that live!”

Railroad Earth

If I were to have any critique of this album, it would be that it left me wanting more.  However, while just six songs, I certainly did not feel like the message wasn’t delivered.  Matter of fact, they could have just taken out the breaks, blended each song right into the next, and all would have been fine by me as one miraculous cry of an aching, yet striving soul.  At just seven bucks minus a penny, this album offers infinitely more than the two-mocha value price tag.  Not only a great addition to any music collection, but also a heart opening experience there for the sharing.  Thank you, Railroad Earth, for an honest, genuine revealing of yourselves.  Your subtlety and power of emotion were not lost on these ears.  “Sometimes the songs we hear are the songs of our own.”  Good job, guys!