Long Black Train [2004]

by: Josh Turner

The centerpiece of this debut album by South Carolina native Josh Turner is its lead track, the traditional-sounding "Long Black Train," which could be a country gospel song out of the 1940s. Penned by Turner, the song rolls death, temptation, and redemption into the metaphor of a funeral train, and sung in Turner's deep voice, it rolls across country radio like nothing else on the scene, the ominous breath of hellfire in the lyrics conjuring up the ghost of Johnny Cash. It is also a hard act to follow, and although there are some strong songs here, nothing else on this record comes up to the level of "Long Black Train." Turner has a deep, commanding voice full of a kind of intimate sadness, and that alone carries songs like "She'll Go on You," setting them apart from what passes for Nashville sincerity these days, but there is simply too much filler here, and with "Long Black Train" as the lead cut, everything else seems like a long breath being exhaled. [MCA reissued Long Black Train in 2004 in an "alternate" version, trimming the original 11 tracks down to seven, a change that actually tightened up the album considerably.] ~ Steve Leggett

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