308 Ghost Train are a rock band with a difference. Although their music harks back to the classic rock of the 70’s and 80’s, they have a spiritual message behind their songs and a lyrical approach that is decidedly modern. The band is the musical brainchild of singer and songwriter POSI Award-winning songwriter and vocalist Anthony “Train” Caruso.
The band name refers to a Bible passage, the Gospel of John 3:8, which compares the Holy Spirit to the wind. That explains the ‘Ghost’ part and Train is Anthony’s nickname – referring to his stoicism and determination which comes across in his music. As a vocalist he has been compared to Bruce Springsteen, John Fogerty (Credence Clearwater Revival) and John Mellancamp, amongst others.
This EP, Born In The Wild, consists of five tracks and starts with the lead single 21 Guns and A Million Tears. It’s a powerful and highly emotive stadium rock anthem that brings to mind the uplifting anthems of Bon Jovi with the blue collar lyrical seriousness of Bruce Springsteen. Featuring a passionate and authentic vocal performance from Caruso, the song is about how veterans are treated after military service and the ones who lose their lives serving their country.
This is a subject dear to Caruso’s heart as he has served in the military himself and this shows in the conviction with which he delivers the words. The title refers to the 21 gun salute given at military funerals for those who lost their life in battle and the song poignantly begins with the sound of bagpipes. This breaks into punchy classic rock with a solid, meaty drum sound and a rich wall of electric guitar chords. Caruso has the strong and distinctive voice necessary to soar above the music, particularly on the fist pumping, instantly memorable chorus.
The lyrics pull no punches with the second verse beginning with these powerful lines: “There’s an oath every defender takes, dedication for freedom’s sake, they’d rather die in an unmarked grave so we can live in the home of the free and brave”. As with Springsteen’s Born In The USA, Caruso delivers a searingly critical message under the guise of a singalong anthem. it’s one of the best rock tracks I’ve heard for some time and an obvious choice for a single.
The next track Worn shows a gentler, more personal side to his songwriting. It’s an epic rock ballad that begins with picked acoustic guitar. The lyrics depict an emotionally troubled state but his underlying faith shines through: “I know I’m in the palm of someone’s hand…”. The song builds to another cathartic chorus with Caruso delivering at the top of his range. The final chorus is particularly emotive and you can imagine thousands singing along, relating to the words of spiritual struggle with empathy.
The title track Born In The Wild is the most light hearted song on the EP, an uptight rock song with a healthy dose of country, driven by rich organ. Once again, he displays his gift for writing killer choruses, which is one aspect that separates great songwriters from merely good ones, in my opinion. The chorus lyrics are as American as mom’s apple pie with the great tag line: “In the back of a Chevy, I was born in the wild….”.
I’ll Unbreak Your Heart is the band’s ‘lighters in the air’ ballad in a style comparable to Bon Jovi’s Always or Aerosmith’s classic I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing. As with all with his other songs the lyrics dig emotionally deeper than most, with lines like “feels like you’ve tumbled off a cliff in the dark… but I’ll catch you girl and unbreak your heart…”. The emotional power of the song is enhanced by the swelling strings and this would be another good choice for a single.
The final song on the EP is another one with a serious and important social message, This Is My Home. On the surface it sounds like a vintage piece of classic rock with an AC/DC style strutting chord progression. But under the hood is a moving and empowering song about a child fighting cancer. Cleverly starting from a perspective of meeting the girl, it flips to her perspective and she expresses her defiance in fighting the disease in the towering chorus: “You’re not welcome here, cos this is my home…..you’re the invader, I’m the crusader, I’ll fight you off on my own…”.
As cancer has become such a blight on so many lives this is a hugely inspiring and uplifting song, especially to those battling against it or those with loved ones in this predicament. It’s particularly aimed at child sufferers, however, and the band will be filming the video for this song at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. A great way to finish.
Overall, this is a hugely enjoyable EP that resurrects classic rock n’ roll into the 21st century with a socially aware and spiritual lyrical approach. With the lead single, 21 Guns and a Million Tears, they have a modern classic on their hands but this EP is solid gold right the way through. Aside from Caruso’s singing and songwriting, credit should also go to the excellent musicianship from the rest of the band which functions as a tight unit. Hopefully 308 Ghost Train will reach the people in the numbers they deserve.