REVIEW: “Cancel the Sun” While Riding the Rails


The train of folk music has been around since the 1930s. Trains have been a major theme in many of the folk songs. Through the curves, hills, valleys, mountains, the train of folk music has hung close to the rails. Such is the case of the third release from The Rails, an emerging power duo in the European folk music scene: Cancel the Sun (Psychonaut Sound/Thirty Tigers).  The album was produced by Stephen Street (The Smiths, The Cranberries).

When I first look into a new artist or band I always see where they live and what influence they have had. The Rails are Kami Thompson (daughter of Richard and Linda) and James Walbourne (guitarist with The Pogues and The Pretenders) and hail from Kentish Town in North London. Kentish Town is an area of northwest London, England in the London Borough of Camden, immediately north of Camden Town. Kentish Town has hosted local artist residents for years, including “electric avenue” Eddy Grant, Karl Marx, and George Orwell to name a few. So there’s plenty in the landscape’s history to have influenced this duo.

Throughout the album, the artistic expression of Walbourne’s guitar is echoed by Kami’s breathtaking vocals and the exquisite producing from Street is shown on each track.

“Call Me When It All Goes Wrong” is a great example of artistry. It’s pure wide open, driving energy and vocally rich. The opening sentences set the tone of this melodic song. “I’m just your lover, I’m not your friend. You’re just another ride that I’ve been on.” The opening fluid sound of Walbourne’s rhythm guitar is spurred on by the Thompson’s haunting lyrics. And then when the vocal harmonies kick in, it’s a nicely etheric, moving sound.

‘Mossy Well’ is a hauntingly superb acoustic folk-dirge. I love dark songs when done well and the Rails nailed this. The opening lyrics set the tone. “If this is life and life this be, This modern life is not for me, I cannot feel nor cannot think, I can only curse and drink.”  Their harmonies are chilling and Thompson hits the 60’s folk tone precisely.

“Inheritance” is a darker dance, “caught in a web of deception, love is a masquerade.”  “Dictator” features a Baroque harpsichord-sounding effect, while “Something is Slipping My Mind” is a gentle, emotional ballad with lilting, chilling vocals.

In my estimation, “Save the Planet” could be the anthem of the year and The Rails’ interpretation of this should be heard far and wide. The apocalyptic message must be heard around the world. This song has the depth but pop-folk sound needed to carry a passionate plea, and it was delightfully electronically and poetically engineered.

Cancel the Sun is a magical production that moves the listener to feel the emotional strings being tugged and tousled. It is truly a great listen.  It has 10 very distinct, different, yet stylistically cohesive songs. Whoever came up with the track order should get major kudos, it was masterfully planned to showcase Street’s producing to match Thompson and Walbourne’s growth into their new sound. For their third album, three times the charm. You can’t go wrong with checking this album out.

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