Freight Train
Reach for the Sky

First Appeared in The Music Box, April 1997, Volume 4, #4

Written by John Metzger

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Freight Train has been playing its own, original blend of music for five years. Rooted in northeastern Pennsylvania, the band has traveled from Maine to Delaware and as far west as Indiana, and its members have shared the stage with many artists from Merl Saunders to Gov't. Mule. The group consists of singer Charles Havira (who also strums away on an acoustic guitar), drummer and percussionist Justin Gibbon, bass player Anthony Sabol, and lead guitarist Kevin Murphy, and after much deliberation, the ensemble finally has issued its debut recording: Reach for the Sky. The album is a laid-back, dreamy collection of tunes that are perfect for sitting under the hot sun on a summer day sipping margaritas. Havira's voice at times draws inevitable comparisons to James Taylor, but Freight Train's style goes far beyond folk music. The collective takes its folk-oriented roots and wraps them in a rich fertilizer of tightly-packed and funky grooves. The eight-song, fifty-minute endeavor is solid throughout, thanks to the pairing of Havira's sweet vocals and the pretty melodies and counter-melodies that are developed by bassist Sabol and guitarist Murphy. The Moment conjures up a Bob Dylan-meets-Grateful Dead style, while That's Alright is a funky dance number reminiscent of the underrated, self-titled debut from Half Way Home. Holding You is a hauntingly powerful piece that leads to the disc-concluding Backseat Driver, which begins with several minutes of spacey improvisation before letting loose with an all-out jam.

While the masses have not yet discovered Freight Train, it without a doubt is a perfect candidate for either the H.O.R.D.E. tour or the Furthur Festival, and hopefully the group will obtain the exposure it deserves sometime soon. starstarstar

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Ratings

1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!

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Copyright 1997 The Music Box