Album Review :
The Hotshot Freight Train - Poetic Devices And Personal Vices

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Band: The Hotshot Freight Train
Title: Poetic Devices And Personal Vices
Label: Future Destination Records
Release Date: 1/30/10
Reviewer: Jeremiah


1.  I Love You Now
2.  My Jerusalem
3.  When I Was Young
4.  Memories Of Loving You
5.  Fool’s Gold
6.  Unwelcome Guest
7.  Cortisol And Cold Hearts
8.  Down In The Valley
9.  Someone To Call Home
10.  Darkness And Light
11.  The Misfit

The Hotshot Freight Train is made up of members Greg Barker (Guitar), Jason Chambers (Guitar, Piano, Vocals), Josh Hutson (Lead Guitar), Caleb Tipton (Drums, Vocals), Joshua Tipton (Lead Vocals, Bass), Zach Whitaker (Mandolin).  They play a style of music that seems lost these days or maybe that’s only the case in the world of mainstream music.  If you mixed some soul, folk, bluegrass, roots, and pop with a lot more americana and rock and roll then you’ll get The Hotshot Freight Train.  The songs are crafted around storytelling lyrics that are inspired by what they see go on around there homes in eastern Tennessee.  It’s possible if Johnny Cash came out during this generation, his music would sound close to this with his same great storytelling.

– “I Love You Now” is a stirring song about the love a boy has for a girl.

She told me, “Boy, you’re moving way too fast.  You know I’ve been hurt before.”  And though I knew there was always that chance, I swore she’d never hurt no more.  So beautifully, I said “Can’t you see?  You’ll never meet another man like me.”  So here we are after all these years.  We’ve been though some tough times and we’ve cried our share of tears.  And I’d gladly go through it all again.  Because I love you just as much as I thought I did then.

It’s a song I can relate to in so many ways that it hits me emotionally.  Being married is awesome but sometimes there are some rough spots that just seem to pop up.  Through it all though I love my wife more and more each day.  Whatever sneaks up on us just makes our love grow the stronger.

– “My Jerusalem” is the title of a town Joshua gives metaphorically to the name of a real town that he needs to get out.  He calls it “a holy city” but it’s bringing him down to the point where he feels he must leave or it would kill him to stay.  There is a lot of religion and politics that infiltrate the body of Christ.  It’s holy but it’s not perfect by all means because of its sinful nature.  I believe a lot of people are turned off by who Jesus Christ is because of how some try to represent him.  We can’t talk the talk and then walk the walk.  We first have to walk the walk and then we can talk the talk.

My Jerusalem, this holy city where so many have lost there way.

– “When I Was Young”

When I was young I recall my mother telling me, “Son, one day you’ve got to put away those foolish things and become a man.”

Now I still hear that line but from my wife.  She doesn’t understand my love for hardcore or music with harsh vocals and says I need to grow up.  Luckily I can just tone her out since I have the ability to do that since I’m a man.  All the men know what I’m talking about.  This is a well crafted rock song with some added harmonica throughout.

– “Memories Of Loving You” is a ballad that’s lyrically about being heartbroken because of someone who was being unfaithful.  He wants to forget everything around her including loving her.  It has a nice guitar solo toward the end that really accompanies the sad state of the song.

– “Fool’s Gold” lyrically deals with a marriage that is broken.  The title of the song itself is about how their worthless wedding bands are made out of fool’s gold.  He declares at the end of the song that he’s not trying to break her heart.  It kind of leaves you hanging on whether they stay together or not but I believe they probably did.  The song is more of a straight up rock song compared to the rest of the album.

– “Unwelcome Guest” is kind of a pre-planned funeral of sorts.

When I’m gone gather all my friends and sing my favorite songs.  Songs about hope, and these old mountains, and songs that tell of Jesus’ love.  Songs that promote peace beyond.  Death may be an unwelcome guest, but it will still arrive.

The added harmonica throughout the song adds some nice flavor to the guitars that trade off and on.  This will probably be my future funeral song because I want it to remind everyone to not fret over my death because I will be with Jesus in a much better place.

– “Cortisol And Cold Hearts”  starts out like it was directly inspired by Johnny Cash.

I came into this world with blood on my hands.

Later in the song Joshua declares

So, here I stand to await the judgment of man.  God, I pray that with justice comes mercy.

I caught my wife dancing to this song which made me want to dance with her.  I didn’t acknowledge it because I’m not good at dancing so I just let her do her thing by herself.  It’s an excellent song about questioning and wanting justice.

– “Down In The Valley” begins with a solid drum beat and acoustic guitar followed by mandolin and really picks up the pace around the 2:40 mark.  Toward the latter part of the song a nice guitar solo comes in and Joshua ends the song proclaiming

Is it any wonder that things turned out this way?  We’ve never had much in this valley and that is how it will stay.

The song itself deals with forsaking others for the sake of money, addiction, depression, and religion.

– “Someone To Call Home” starts off with some nice electric guitar before the rest of the instruments come in.  It’s a great rocking song about living for today.

For all I know, my days on Earth are already half way done.  Living for tomorrow seems like such a waste, because tomorrow may never come.  So, let me say I Love You, like it’s never been done before.

– “Darkness And Light” is by far my favorite track.  The lyrics will just melt your heart and spirit.  It leaves you with a feeling of melancoly but joy at the same time.  He’s wondering where (God) is when he prays and why there is no reply.  He even wonders if it’s all a lie but he still proclaims he loves (God) wherever he is.  Even does so to the point that he’d rather be in hell then heaven if that’s where (God) is.  I put parenthesis around God because he’s not actually mentioned in the lyrics but you know that’s who Joshua is talking about.  The song ends with an epic guitar solo accompanied by Zach’s mandolin playing.  A brilliant song lyrically and musically.  It’s definitely one of the best ever written by anyone.

– “The Misfit” ends the album with some mandolin playing as the acoustic guitar and then the electric guitar come in.  The drums follow halfway through and then a nice touch with the harmonica.  We get some nice advice from Ms. Connor.

Ms. Connor was right.  A good man is hard to find.

I know this to be the truth with my daily dealings with people.  But I still have to love them as my Father loves me.  Unconditionally!  This song is a nice ending to a wonderfully crafted LP.

Overall: This is one of the most unique albums I’ve heard in a long time.  Brandon Jones named this his number 1 album of 2009 even though it didn’t finally get released until January 30th of this year.  But I can see why he gave it a number 1 rating.  This album is above and beyond in regards to songwriting and craft compared to their debut album.  I liked “The Devil Pays In Counterfeit” but it seemed hit and miss to me.  “Poetic Devices And Personal Vices” hits on all cylinders from start to finish.  From the emotional “I Love You Now” to the knowledge of Ms. Connor in “The Misfits”, these songs will pull you in lyrically and won’t let you go without a fight.  Brace yourself for some foot stomping and hand clapping.