Train Faces 2022
Billed under his own name again, American belter goes to the corner to buy a bouquet of songs.
Involvement with various ensembles has kept this New Yorker quite busy but it didn’t alleviate his followers’ wait for the successor to "Month Of Sundays" EP which kickstarted the warbler’s solo career back in 2017. Keeping it within the creative neighborhood didn’t widen the circle of Mark Duda’s fans either – only this performer never really cared about the surface area his fame should cover, hence the delay – yet “Bodega Flowers” can indeed expand his influence upon the good-tune-loving audience. There’s no need for stylistic innovations when a guilty-pleasure lick is guaranteed to bring a smile to the listener’s lips; and the singer refuses to go off on a tangent, preferring the decades-tested path to a dangerous curve – unless the curves belong to a woman.
That’s why the AOR ball may be rolling with a swagger once the streamlined “Ambulance Song” starts the album, setting Duda’s deceptively voice against the righteous groove courtesy of Kasim Sulton and Thommy Price – the veterans reprise their bass-and-drums lock-in for the first time since 1986’s joint venture – until vocals whet one’s appetite on the piece’s catchy chorus, before Jimi K. Bones’s seductive six strings drive Mark’s clear pipes alongside the irresistibly riveting, acoustically-lined routes of the platter’s organ-wrapped title track. And if the aural thrill of the effects-strew “Astroland” seems rather soft, it evokes erstwhile innocence, the artist coming across arrestingly ecstatic and contrasting the heavy seriousness of “Avenue A Is Dead” whose dramatic “Hallelujah” refrain, lifted higher and higher, must stay in one’s memory for ages, so the “Miss You” quote could have been left on the roadside – only this riff is what sways the record towards rhythm-and-blues.
That’s where the shuffled panache of “Hush Money” resides to throw a rocking arc to “My Stash” which is full of menacing gusto, yet there’s a chamber charm to the power-balladry of “Don’t Wanna Be Right” and an orchestral wave to “Wednesday” – the number molded after the ’60s’ melodic template, with guitar twang and sax blare pouring fuel on Duda’s fire – but Mark’s rockabilly-strutting motor on the finale of “Dead Again” would be stoked by his own inner incendiary jive. Let’s hope the heated atmosphere this performer staged here won’t get cold by the moment he’s to deliver the next aromatic posy.