Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Town and Country - Shorter Artist Feature from Issue #26 March-April 2000

Last Train Home

Those were the days…


If this were 1972, Last Train Home would have a multi-album deal with a major like Warner Bros. or Columbia. But today, the subtleties of the band’s music — buttery harmonies, aching melodies flecked with homey strains of harmonica, mandolin and steel guitar — couldn’t be further out of fashion. Ditto the quiet desperation of the band’s lyrics, unpretentiously poetic meditations on life’s tremors that owe as much to the urgent melodrama of Jimmy Webb as to the writerly whimsy of Willis Alan Ramsey. In other words, 1972 revisited, and not the sort of thing that gets the attention of today’s SoundScan-conscious record execs.

“We’re definitely not working in a style that people perceive to be commercially viable,” admits frontman and principal songwriter Eric Brace. “If we really wanted to get signed, we would have some guy sampling some hip-hop beat behind us, get a mixmaster to liven things up a bit, and lie about our ages. It’s a youngsters’ game. Labels aren’t signing bands in their thirties.”

This isn’t to cast retro aspersions on Last Train Home’s unassuming country-rock — although one might be tempted to if the group’s playing, singing, and writing weren’t so damn felt — but rather to put it in context. As it is, their self-titled debut hit hard enough to earn them a Wammie (Washington Area Music Association Award) for Best Country Recording of 1998.

The group’s new album, True North, a record that plumbs the magnetic pull of the heart’s compass, is at once more muscular and multi-hued than its predecessor, including a turbocharged mountain breakdown, a Tijuana Brass cover, and a greasy slab of roadhouse rock. (Last Train Home also chipped in a swell version of “So Long Baby, Goodbye” to 1998′s Blastered: A Musical Tribute To The Blasters.)

All of the band’s music, says Brace, is born of a sensibility that he and his brother Alan, who plays mandolin, harmonica, and sings, developed while still in high school. Besides the Brace brothers, Last Train Home’s lineup consists of Bill Williams on guitars, Alan Enderson on keys, Kelly Willis & the Fireballs alum J. Carson Gray on bass, and Martin Lynds on drums and percussion.

“Back in the ’70s, D.C. had the greatest radio station in the world, WHFS-FM,” Brace enthuses. “It was a total indie and progressive station that would play Jesse Winchester and was the first commercial station in town to play the Sex Pistols. It was the first place we heard Willis Allan Ramsey and Little Feat, Bruce Cockburn and Elvis Costello. It was a musical education for a 15-year-old. Everything we’ve done comes out of listening to that station during that era.”

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108


Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #26 March-April 2000

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »

From the Blogs

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!

Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter