Despite calling their Hellcat Records debut Transitions, Boston’s Westbound Train stay true to their ’60s ska sound, resisting the urge to speed things up or punkify their reggae focus. Like label mates The Slackers, they have forged their sound on the early roots of the genre that has been through enough waves to be called a current. Pulling as much from early English 2tone ska as American blends of soul and blues, their nostalgic sounds are best heard on “Please Forgive Me” — three minutes of irie worthy of Toots & The Maytals.
Vocalist Obi Fernandez is the ingredient that takes this band out of the ordinary and into the interesting. Soulful, playful and unafraid to take chances on the high notes, Fernandez would not have been out of place singing alongside Otis Redding or Al Green. He’s a soul singer who happens to like ska.
Westbound Train makes a played-out genre fun again.
Westbound Train: www.westboundsound.com