The Train of Life

Dave Medina

One of the interesting challenges of criticism is confronting your own biases. The Train of Life by local singer-songwriter Dave Medina, was like a marathon of bias confrontation for me. The album title, the hokey cover, the New Agey liner notes, the song titles—“Society’s Child,” “Tahoe Nights”—it all triggered more red flags than a communist rally.

The first listen seemed to confirm my fears—cheesy lyrics and unfashionable production—but I got over my bad self, and was pleasantly surprised by some of the musicianship. The best moments are reminiscent of Abraxas-era Santana: loose, jazzy, percussion-heavy, Latin-tinged jams with rippin’ guitar leads by Medina. There are some nice guest spots, including Tristan Selzler’s funky trombone on “Tahoe Nights,” and lovely pedal steel by Tom Ward on “Harmony.” It’s not necessarily my cup of tea, but it’s definitely drinkable.