Spin - 8/95, pp.92-93
8 - Very Good - "...Earle offers neither contrite confessionals nor toothless mush. He's too dogged and proud to be anything but himself....[His] redemptive gift lies in his ability to evoke poignance and loss without spilling into sentimentality....Truth be told, he makes no mistakes..."
Entertainment Weekly - 5/5/95, p.71
"...Nashville's baddest boy returns, after a five-year-absence, with an acoustic album of early material, new songs, and covers by country-folk mentors like Townes Van Zandt....Earle is nothing short of a narrative master..." - Rating: B
Q - 2/96, p.65
Included in Q's 50 Best Albums of 1995.
Q - 7/95, p.1353 Stars
- Good - "...sounds like a man beginning to feel his way around again after a long period out of circulation. He's gone back to where he started, making an acoustic album with the emphasis on the songs....He may be bowed but he's plainly not beaten."
Sing Out! - 8-10/95, p.148
"...the writing is crisp and tough, deeply rooted in tradition but never self-consciously folky, and Earle sounds as if he has lived every word..."
Mojo (Publisher) - 7/95, p.111
"...TRAIN A COMIN' is all acoustic....the feel of the record is also retrospective...very live, ramshackle and raw. Earle plays his guitar and mandolin parts with customary vigour and sings his heart out in his ragged but right voice..."
NME (Magazine) - 7/15/95, p.497 (out of 10)
- "...a slew of smart tunes played simply on guitar, mandolin and stuff....He was always doomed by comparisons to Springsteen in the past but these days Earle comes over like a trainee Johnny Cash: pithy, grim-voiced, strangely mythical..."
Personnel: Steve Earle (vocals, 6-string, 12-string & high string guitars, mandolin, harmonica); Peter Rowan (vocals, gut string guitar, mandolin, mandola); Emmylou Harris (vocals); Norman Blake (Hawaiian guitar, guitar, dobro, mandolin, fiddle); Roy Huskey (acoustic bass).
Recorded at Magic Tracks Recording Studio and Masterfonics, Nashville, Tennessee. Originally released on Winter Harvest Entertainment (3302). Includes liner notes by Steve Earle.
TRAIN A COMIN' was nominated for a 1996 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
When you need a break from THE MOUNTAIN (Earle's 1999 release with the Del McCoury Band), you could flip on his earlier all-acoustic TRAIN A COMIN'. Released in 1995, after the Texas-born songwriter's bout with heroin addiction and jail time, this was Earle's "comeback album." Not only is it an unfiltered pleasure to hear Earle in such pared-down environs, but the band itself is a killer outfit. Peter Rowan, Norman Blake, and the late Roy Huskey don't make "guest appearances" with the band-they are the band. And they're allowed to do what they do best. Blake is even given a solo spot, the guitar instrumental "Northern Winds."
Earle draws on material written over the last 20 years, but there's never a sense that he's culling from his notebook material that he was smart enough not to record the first time around. "Tom Ames' Prayer," "Mercenary Song," and "Ben McCullough" are great story songs with at least one leg planted in the 19th Century. "Sometimes She Forgets," "Goodbye," and "Nothin' Without You" are the kind of smart, acrid love songs that will, of course, never show up on the country charts.