Victor Wainwright & The Train

Victor Wainwright & The Train 

Memphis Loud
Ruf Records

by Greg Johnson 

Victor Wainwright is without doubt one of the piano kings of our time. On his latest disc, Memphis Loud, he takes us on a compelling journey through a series of musical styles where he expands on his range of playing, from his well-known boogie to soft ballads to a touch of country. And it all screams to be heard. 

Wainwright’s band, The Train, is a mixture of amazing musicians from Memphis and afar: Terrance Grayson on bass, drummer Billy Dean, twin guitars from Pat Harrington and Dave Gross, plus horns provided by Doug Woolverton and Mark Earley. If that’s not enough, the guest list of friends joining in is an all-star collection in its own right: Reba Russell, Monster Mike Welch, Gracie Curran, Greg Gumpel, Mikey Junior and Chris Stephenson. Thus The Train is a fitting moniker as there is a lot of locomotive energy behind this band. 

The opening track, “Mississippi,” draws you forth with Wainwright’s frolicking fingerwork, gliding and glistening across his keys. The pace increases and the tone is set for what to expect through the rest of the album. The music and lyrics are going to hit on all angles, heartbreak (“Disappear”), humor (“South End of a Northbound Mule”), gospel-influenced soul (“Reconcile”), there’s even a love letter written for his dog (“My Dog Riley”). Horns that bring to mind classic jazz bands like Duke Ellington; there’s musical grounds of Memphis, New Orleans and more; and of course that pounding piano that hearkens to boogie masters such as Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Wainwright covers all that ground and more in splendid fashion on Memphis Loud. 

 

Total Time: 57:49 

Mississippi / Walk The Walk / Memphis Loud / Sing / Disappear / Creek Don’t Rise / Golden Rule / America / South End of a Northbound Mule / Recovery / My Dog Riley / Reconcile