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The black, streamlined Commodore Vanderbilt Hudson locomotive emerges from the long tunnel of memory and circles endlessly on the three-rail track of nostalgia. The rails glisten in the rain, the throbbing engine brushes gobbets of water from overhanging branches and hunkers down with a low-pitched whining groan. Sparks sputter from under the wheels in a blue-and-white arc of recall. The long, majestic iron horse rushes down the straightaway against the wall of the house we lived in when we were 10, whistling and chugging bravely. “I’ve ridden on a lot of trains,” says Ethan Daniel Davidson, a native Michigander. “To jump on one, you try to be sure you can see each bolt. Once they all start to blend together, the train is going too fast to jump on. I’m too old to jump on trains now, but I can still write about them.” On “Stranger”, his most poignant ballad is the quivering, shuddering “My Train Got Lost”. The title comes from an anthem by a Minnesota troubadour who has written dozens of songs about the coming and going of coachmen, station masters, tramps walking along the rails, conductors, steam whistles, railroad men, railroad gin and railroad tracks. Other tracks of recorded sound on “Stranger” owe debts to Public Image Ltd. (the post-punk “Even Bad Seeds”), The Band (the prophetic “There was a Famine in the House of Bread”) and Echo & The Bunnymen (the existential “My Jail”). Of the folk music staple “Dink’s Song”, Davidson says, “It’s pretty self-explanatory: woman deserted by her lover when she needs him the most. She lost her child, so she’s going home on the #9 train. At some point we’re all going home on the #9.”