October 27, 2009
Sony Music Entertainment

Album Review

San Francisco's Train hit the charts with a bang early in the 21st century with hits like "Calling All Angels" and "Drops of Jupiter." Save Me, San Francisco took four years to make, four studios in the United States and England, songwriting collaborators, and even a handful of producers, though Martin Terefe gets final credit. Save Me, San Francisco is a very focused record, centering around the theme of a wandering young rocker who falls in love and wants to settle down. The title track opens with an acoustic guitar playing a variation on the classic I-IV-V progression, a snare kicks in, and Pat Monahan's vocal evokes prime Bob Seger in its confessional style. A piano and electric guitars enter on "whooo-hooo-hooo" chorus, and it's near-perfect radio rock. That said, the single "Hey Soul Sister," a love song with the best anthemic Train chorus to date, is the album's most memorable cut, name-checking Mr. Mister and employing a Madonna metaphor -- crediting her in the process. Acoustic guitars, kick drums, tom-toms, mandolins, and a B-3 underscoring Monahan's emotive lyrics and melody make it literally unforgettable. "I Got You" samples the Doobie Brothers' "Black Water" as an intro, and then further uses its chorus with a faux-reggae backbeat. It's a high-gloss, big-production pop number. There are a couple of Monahan's signature ballads here, too: the conflict-laden "This Ain't Goodbye," arranged with strings, and "Words," with its undying profession of standing in the eye of the storm to protect the protagonist's beloved. "Brick by Brick," with its swelling refrain, has a lyric that promises the moon and tries to deliver it in the processional 4/4 time that underscores all of Train's power ballads. The album concludes with "Marry Me," in which Monahan sings nearly prayerfully, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, flute, and muted percussion. Save Me, San Francisco is a love song to the band's hometown. Their loyal fan base will no doubt celebrate it to be sure, but more than this, Save Me, San Francisco sounds like Train are swinging hard for the pop fences. [The October 2010 edition of the album's Golden Gate Edition contains six additional tracks. There is an alternate of "Parachute," a dance mix of "Marry Me," and four new cuts, including the holiday-inspired "Shake Up Christmas" and a cover of Rihanna's "Umbrella."]
Thom Jurek, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Save Me, San Francisco
  2. Hey, Soul Sister
  3. I Got You
  4. Parachute
  5. This Ain't Goodbye
  6. If It's Love
  7. You Already Know
  8. Words
  9. Brick by Brick
  10. Breakfast in Bed
  11. Marry Me
  12. Shake Up Christmas [*]
  13. Half Moon Bay [*]
  14. The Finish Line [*]
  15. Umbrella [*]
  16. Parachute [Alternate Version] [Alternate Take][*][Version]
  17. Marry Me [First Dance Remix] [*]