Wednesday, December 17, 2014

‘Diary’ an open book on growth and healing

Popular area singer finds artistic expression through new CD   

DECEMBER 17, 2014

Jane Train’s debut album, “Diary,” is just that. It’s a deeply personal record filled with songs that chronicle both pain and healing. And for the talented and charismatic vocalist - known best to area music fans for her work with the popular band M80 - there was a lot of healing needed. The album, she said, was mostly inspired by her marriage and divorce. Music, and writing about her experience, helped her move forward.

“I felt like I needed to do my art,” says Train. “And I felt like I needed to heal from investing in a relationship that failed and that put me through the most extreme emotions that I’d ever felt in my life.”

Though, with M80, Train has graced the stages of NEPA for nearly a decade, her resume also includes plenty of national work. From 1999-2000, she toured the country as a backup singer with Liz Phair, co-headlining shows with artists such as Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Dixie Chicks, Queen Latifah and Deborah Cox. With Phair she also toured as an opener for Alanis Morissette, and last year, as a solo artist, she opened for Motley Crue. Simply put, Train has befriended many musicians, which might explain why “Diary” not only features work by former Breaking Benjamin members Aaron Fink, Mark James Klepaski and Chad Szeliga, but also Nick Coyle (Lifer/The Drama Club/Stardog Champion), Tyler Grady (American Idol), Dale Stewart (Seether,) Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Guns ‘N Roses) and Clint Lowery (Sevendust), who co-wrote five songs.

Train says initially, she was not planning on an all-star album, but as the sessions began, the record took on a life of its own.

“At the very beginning, I didn’t think about getting all of the big players on it,” she says. “But as it developed, I just started thinking ‘Let me ask so and so, who I’ve known for X amount of years, and have never, ever asked for a favor.’ I guess once I got one person, and then two, I thought ‘I’m getting everybody.’ ”

She laughs.

“Diary” is a big-sounding album with booming production. Tracks include “Love & Hate,” “Time To Shine,” “Small Town,” “Tides” and “Beauty For Ashes.” There’s also an explosive cover of My Bloody Valentine’s “Only Shallow.” Train says writing the songs was cathartic and that the process became a bit of a journey.

“At first, the songwriting relied more heavily on lyrics,” she says. “I have one song that’s actually kind of poppy, but it’s a very sad song, and I don’t think it was until Clint from Sevendust entered the picture that some of the darker elements that I really craved were brought out. I don’t know why I didn’t go there on my own originally, but Clint brought it out. I touched on subjects that were not happy, because I definitely was not happy. With life in general, I was happy, but I was still healing and still wounded.”

She held nothing back.

“I needed to express all of this in a very honest way, like a musical diary,” she says. “I know I’m not the only one who has encountered loss, suffering and grief. I had a lot to say that people could relate to, and I needed to say it. Finally, my music was coming alive and my healing was well under way. I wrote about everything that I went through.”

In addition to penning songs about relationships, Train also tackled other topics.

“I included a song against bullying called ‘Breathe Out,’ ” she says. “I hang out with a lot of gay people and I’ve heard painful stories about what they’ve gone through. Although I’m straight, I was bullied in school because of my frizzy hair, and then when I was the new girl. It was horrible. I didn’t have many friends growing up. Kids are brutal.”

Such songs have already connected with people.

“Before my CD was finished, I had the opportunity to open for Motley Crue,” says Train. “I felt completely at home on that stage, and I received a lot of positive feedback on Facebook, including one mother that reached out to me and said she found my song ‘Time to Shine’ online. She then went on to say how her son was bullied in school and had mentioned suicide. They listened to my song and cried together. He said one day it would be his ‘time to shine.’ I cried when I read this. I wrote to her and offered to talk to him over Skype. She was so excited. I spoke to this amazingly smart, cute, and funny 12 year-old for two hours. We laughed, and he did mention the suicide thoughts to me. I said, ‘Why would you kill yourself and let them win? Stay alive just to piss them off!’ He laughed and agreed.”

Train says she then sent the boy the song “‘Breathe Out.” It too connected.

“They thanked me for reaching out by having the lyrics to my song printed on a canvas over a beautiful photograph of storm clouds the mother had taken,” she says. “I bawled when I received that gift. I’m still in touch with them. Over the summer, the young boy gained confidence from that talk and is hardly bothered at all by those bullies. I heard he even has his first girlfriend. “

Train credits her own faith in God in getting her through tough times. She says that the CD cover, which was shot in England and shows her leaning on a cross, is reflective of that. And through it all, she’s also maintained good humor. She says that her” “first post-divorce kiss” was with none other than Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Gregg Allman, with whom she had a brief romance that turned into a steady friendship.

“I think Gregg Allman is the only person I didn’t get to play on the album,” she says with a laugh.

“Diary” is available at the Gallery of Sound as well as iTunes, CD Baby and Amazon and can be heard on Spotify. It is also available at M80’s shows and at Train says that after a few years of work, she is happy to finally get her music out there to her fans.

“This was a selfish effort,” she says. “I don’t mean it in a bad way. I wasn’t doing it for money or anything. It was selfish in that I really, really needed to get this out to help me heal and to feel accomplished. In all of the years I’ve been doing music, since I was 12, I never once put out a full CD. I’m excited that it’s done, and what’s making everything new for me is the people that are telling me what songs they love, and what they mean to them. That’s the part that’s pretty awesome.”

(This story first was first published as the cover story of The Weekender on December 17, 2014.  Alan K. Stout has covered rock and pop music in NEPA since 1992. His weekly radio show, “Music On The Menu” airs Sunday nights from 9-10 p.m. on 105 The River in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. His commentaries on music and concert reviews are now published by the Bold Gold Media Group.)

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