Recording period between
Kristina Train was born in New York City but grew up singing in church choirs in Savannah, GA, home to many great soul and pop singers over the years. Train sang in soul bands while still a teenager and got a development deal with Blue Note when she was 19. Seven years later she went to London to cut Spilt Milk with producer and songwriter Jimmy Hogarth, and songwriter arranger Eg White. Train, Hogarth, and White wrote most of the tunes here, and they're all solid, with half of them sounding like potential anthems. The album opens with the title track, possibly the collection's strongest song and certainly the catchiest. The tune opens with a subtle piano figure and Train's whispered vocal, full of jazzy inflections, then the chorus kicks in with Train belting out the hook line with a soulful, tear-stained power. It's the kind of tune that will have you pushing the replay button over and over. "Don't Beg for Love" is another sizzler, a quiet tour de force with hints of Aretha and Dusty Springfield in the vocal, and that's not critical hyperbole. Train's restrained delivery is full of implied power as she tells a weak lover to get lost, while the backing singers drop some wailing, gospel-drenched melismas into the mix. The gospel singers return on "I Can't But Help," which celebrates life's darker moments with Train's vocal full of hope and jubilation despite the grim lyric. Train walks the fine line between aspiration and resignation with aplomb. "Call in the Maker" is another sharp bit of pop/soul while "Far from the Country" perfectly blends blues, pop, and Southern soul with Train's breezy vocal. The songwriting has plenty of knowing nods to the artists and songwriters of the late '60s and early '70s, but it's Train's voice that dominates the album. She has a dusky, soulful tone that can imbue even the simplest phrases with wrenching emotion. Spilt Milk -- the song and the album -- announces the birth of a remarkable new talent.