Saying “goodbye” to the town you grew up in can be hard. It can be especially difficult when you are saying goodbye, not because you are moving, but because the town you knew – a town that once thrived – is no more. That town is gone, and has been replaced by a town just trying to survive the changes in a global economy.
Heartbreak A Stranger’s debut EP, “Trenton” is Aaron Hartling’s goodbye to Trenton.
Heartbreak A Stranger is Aaron Hartling. Now based in Halifax, Hartling grew up in Trenton, Nova Scotia. He watched Trenton change from a bustling town to one struggling to survive. It is clear that this 7-song EP was an album that Hartling had to make.
I have always enjoyed a good concept album, and Trenton is a good concept album. It opens with a touching and somber “Introduction” featuring news clips leading up to the closing of the Trenton Railcar Plant.
The introduction starts with news that “more lay-offs are on the way for workers at the Trenton Railcar plant”, but it may be a temporary setback. When the news arrives that “The Trenton Railcar Plant, which has been making railcars since 1872, is no more…”, one cannot help but feel for the people of Trenton. This somber tone continues throughout the remainder of the album and is particularly evident on “Look In The Mirror”, “A Conversation” and “Lament”.
Heartbreak A Stranger speeds things up on “This Town” and “Your Hometown” – two songs, featuring some fine drumming by Kev Corbett and guitar playing by Jason Mingo. “This Town” , and the lyrics “I”m going to sing about this town, ’cause no-one else does; I’m going to talk about this town, ’cause no-one else will”, ensures that the town will not be forgotten. “Your Hometown” provides a sense of hope that things may turn around in the town that no longer thrives as it once did.
My favourite song on this album is the finale “Arise/Alive”. Set to some lovely cello by Julia Feltham, it is a call for the town to “rise up from your ashes” because “you were born to shine forever”. It is a touching closing to this “musical postcard to Trenton”.
Hartling’s storytelling, singing style and ability to evoke emotion, call to mind the music of the great Ron Hynes. Anyone who enjoys a good story, especially those who remember the closing of the Trenton Railcar Plant, will want to give this album a listen. I recommend listening to Trenton from the beginning – as it was made to be absorbed.
2. This Town
3. Look In the Mirror
4. A Conversation
5. Your Hometown
For those in Halifax, the Trenton CD release party will take place at The Company House on March 16.