On my first encounter with 308 Ghost Train they came on all guns blazing with the reverential and patriotic tones of 21 Guns and Million Tears, a song filled with power, pride and a ragged poise in equal measure. Worn shows another side to the band, it shows a more reflective, more personal side, a soul searching sentiment but no less defiant at its core. Never judge books by covers and similarly never judge a band by the first song that you hear, is a good rule for life I guess.
As subject matter goes, the timing of such a song couldn’t be more perfect. Recent years have seen mental health issues and personal inner struggles brought out into the open, do be discussed honestly and empathetically. And Worn touches on those same ideas, the idea that all too often we hide our problems from those around us, men in particular, we cover them with bravado and excuses rather than allow our vulnerable side to show. And that beneath all the turmoil and toil that we are trying to suppress even the seemingly most broken people have much to offer the world.
Musically it follows a power ballad dynamic but this is a million miles away from what that term implies. Forget all of the love-lorn lyricism, the images of Hollywood screen romance, the innocence and unrequited love that has been the stock-in-trade of such songs in the past, Worn flips the template on its head. Instead on that familiar quiet-loud sonic wave it hangs lyrics, images and ideas that come from a much deeper, much more honest and much more relatable place. It reminds us that we all have battles to fight and the invisible ones are often the hardest and that they are often the ones that we face on our own. It is also a reminder that we don’t have to face such challenges alone and the very act of writing such a song in the first place is a brilliant rallying cry for such issues.
If 21 Guns… was a low slung, rock and roll anthem, Worn is a gentle and slow burning rock and role-model for the power of music to heal, or at least to put people on the path to healing. You could argue that it’s just a song. Well, of course in many ways it is, but what 308 Ghost Train know is that if you have worked hard enough to get to a place where your music can be heard by a large number of people, why not use that platform to have something to say? And if you can back it up with a deftly carved tune as well, so much the better.