Changing Trains is a band from Limerick, Ireland. The band line-up consists of six school friends who have combined their talents to produce an uplifting and energising pop-rock album entitled,’The Theory of Everything’, as imagined by lead songwriter and devout Limerick FC supporter, Paul O’Riordain. While Changing Trains as it stands is a relatively new band, it’s members have been producing their own music in one form or another for the bones of fifteen to twenty years as independent artists.
Check out Red Eskimo, Only, Drumming Room, Peter Delaney, Newland Gesture for the back catalogue of their work over the years; as well as the many bands and artists they have collaborated with around the Limerick area.
For O’Riordain, this album has been an ‘extraordinary journey spanning 4 years’ in the making. Not only has this been a journey in the writing and recording of an album; but in another sense, it also serves as a monument for the independent artist community. It exists and survives on the strength, perseverance and a special bond with the community and people that surround it. Not to be taken lightly by any stretch of the imagination; since it’s release on February 1st 2015, it has shared the limelight in the top ten of the Irish charts with the likes of musical giants Queen, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin. In recent days it has also overtaken the charm of Ed Sheeran’s album ‘X’, sitting firmly and proudly at the number two position, without the assistance of any kind of industry PR backing or management. In addition, it proves that particularly through difficult economic times and political woes that the one true thing that keeps us moving through it all is the gift of friendship and a shared love for great music.
Fronted by singer Hannah O’Brien’s highly melodic vocals and layered harmonies; from start to finish we are given treat-upon-treat of perfect pop-rock candy. Throughout ‘The Theory of Everything’ is emotionally dynamic as is O’Brien’s singing as she delivers a breath-taking performance amid the lovingly constructed musical framework. With additonal attention to the sublime melodies, Podge O’Donoghue performs violin arrangements beautifully, in contrast to the methodical accuracy of David Carroll’s drumming (One of these Days); equally powerful elements that sweep in to provide a critical lift in suspense, momentum and energy (Let Me Breathe 3:29). On the other hand, Neil Delaney offers subtle pinches of piano (I Loved You Once) that culminate the sublime rhetoric of this album in a highly delicate and crafted arrangement of care and passion. Not to forget Rob Carey’s tuneful bass lines rhythmically trodding underneath it all like an anchor definite in its clasp of the melody (One of These Days intro). Peter Delaney’s ukulele is so playful in its ‘unrock-like’ candour that you are immediately drawn in by its peculiarity and intimacy (Gathering the Sunlight).
Delving further into this record, you’ll find a depth unlike that often found in this genre. ‘The Theory of Everything’, as the title and artwork suggest offers something greater than our mere existence as humans, something more scientific, you might argue (not just because of its coincidental connection to the recent Stephen Hawking bio/movie of the same name), yet it still retains an awe and admiration for what it is to be human with its touching delivery of emotional high and lows.
Lyrically, O’Riordain makes an interesting reference to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle* (Staring at the Moon); one of the more insightful moments among the album’s array of hooks. This fascination with the cosmos, universe, time and relativity creates an alluring dialogue of subtext in juxtaposition to the emotional content of the music; revealing a certain reverence to some kind of doctrine. Considering O’Riordain’s seeming persuasion towards science, one might interpret his views as being atheist, or having a healthy dose of cynicism for institutional religious practices at the very least. “Go back to when the faith decided to silence people with a different mind and you couldn’t question anything they said wasn’t right, not even stars and light”(Let Me Breath 1:12).
*First articulated in 1927 by the German quantum physicist Werner Heisenberg, The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that you can never simultaneously know the exact position and the exact speed of an object. Why not? Because everything in the universe behaves like both a particle and a wave at the same time. …Lost? Me too!Here’s a cartoon to help!
Perhaps one of the most note-worthy elements of this album is the authors unwavering focus on his concept. It is filled with a curiosity for religious debacle but not in any malicious sense. It seems to look closer at the personal ideology and offers questions, in lyrical format, toward understanding the greater mysteries of the universe.
Throughout, the lyrics are sentimental in nature, “Beneath this heart that beats, there’s an ocean of dreams” (One of These Days 0:22). There is also a deep element of nostalgia in the lines, “I know that I’d never leave because my home is inside me” (Gathering the Sunlight 1:56) , “One of these days, he’ll realise his mistake, put the bottle down and hold his head”(One of These Days 1:12), but the tone of the delivery remains entirely upbeat and optimistic (Feeling Great). It expresses a deep love for life seen through the eyes of a romantic dreamer. There is an element of escapism and fantasy; where the protagonist constantly makes reference and looks to images of nature (stars, wind, moon, sun) for answers to the challenges of life. However, the dream is then crushed and we are brought back to the normality of life with words like,’pack the car and pretend that we’d just take a chance'(Gathering the Sunlight), or my personal favourite,”…go where the government don’t lie”.
Changing Trains,’Theory of Everything’ will be released independently on the internet in February 2015. Check out the usual social networks for more news, reviews, shows and updates of music to come by a truly talented group of dedicated musicians.