Editors' pick

Last Train Home

Alt-Country/Rockabilly
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Editorial Review

Mike Joyce wrote about Last Train Home in December 2007 for The Washington Post:

The last thing you'd want to see from Last Train Home is a DVD that doesn't do justice to the band's colorfully arranged roots music. But one glance at "Live at Iota" is enough to allay all fears.

Trumpet, saxophones, keyboards, accordion, acoustic and electric guitars, bass and drums -- LTH pulled out all the stops when it appeared at the Arlington club last spring. The result is a 100-minute DVD that fully captures the band's textured sound and mood-shifting repertoire. Singer-songwriter-frontman Eric Brace (a former Post reporter) has written and gathered a lot of good songs in the past decade, so although fans may not find all of their favorites on this 19-track set, there's no shortage of worthy cover tunes and inspired originals. The former includes Bob Dylan's "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You" (an unusually spirited version that kicks off the concert), Tom T. Hall's "I Flew Over Our House Last Night" (high on the list of great honky-tonk ballads) and Carter Stanley's "Say Won't You Be Mine" (which triggers a romping roadhouse take on bluegrass). Also represented are Merle Haggard ("Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down") and Rodney Crowell ("Ain't Livin' Long Like This"), whose tunes help fuel a terrific, mid-concert medley.

Punctuating the familiar refrains are several of Brace's finest lyrics: the affecting Johnny and June Carter Cash homage "Hendersonville," the haunting ballad "Flood" and the rousing "Last Good Kiss," among others. Brace's impressive songcraft and soulful delivery make for a potent combination, though there are plenty of moments when LTH's multi-hued arrangements are the principal attraction, thanks to an octet lineup that generously features guitarist Steve Wedemeyer, keyboardist Jen Gunderman, pedal steel guitarist Dave Van Allen and saxophonist Chris Watling.