Kristina Train’s debut album for Blue Note Records, Spilt Milk, acquired its title honestly: As the final recording sessions were about to begin, a once in a lifetime computer glitch occurred during file backup and deleted much of what had already been accomplished. Instead of crying over the proverbial spilt milk, Train went back into the studio and recut the erased material. “I don’t think anything was lost,” Train says, “I don’t think there was one magic moment that we could never recapture. I love what it is today.” There’s no telling now whether anything was lost to technology, but what does remain is the fact that in its final version Spilt Milk is one of my favorite albums of 2009.
Train was born in New York City, but raised by in Savannah, GA by single mother who kept Kristina from television and pop radio. As a result, she listened to a lot of classical music, opera, jazz, and blues, and took music lessons. Her ability to create the timeless music on Spilt Milk is the result of being raised apart from the influence of shifting trends.
There is a line of female singers that runs from Dionne Warwick and Dusty Springfield, through Aretha Franklin, on to Shelby Lynne, and now to Kristina Train. What all of these singers have in common, in addition to their extraordinary voices, is a thorough grounding in southern soul and gospel music, and an unerring ability to convey the emotion inherent in a song. Each of these artists also had the advantage of working with an empathetic producer who brought out the best in them, whether it was Jerry Wexler with Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield, Burt Bacharach with Dionne Warwick, or Phil Ramone with Shelby Lynne. Kristina Train has been fortunate enough to ally herself with producer Jimmy Hogarth, who was also responsible for recent efforts from Duffy, Corinne Bailey Rae, and James Blunt.
As you may have gleaned from the title, Spilt Milk conveys the determination of an indomitable spirit. Train is best on the bittersweet break up songs. I love this line from Blue Note’s press release: “Train knows how, over the course of a song, to walk away from a relationship gracefully.” Exactly. The title track leads off the album. I was immediately taken with this young artist, and there was no sense of letdown as the album continued. Several listens later, I’ve yet to discover a false moment. In fact, it keeps getting better. You really need to hear this album for yourself. When someone asks me what new music I like, this is the one I tell them about. Kristina Train is going to be a star.