Nick Jaina's album, The 7 Stations, is like a handy map of the unconscious mind. It uses the range of human emotions to lead you to places you have always dreamed of going but never thought you could afford to go to, and to places you have always had nightmares about getting stuck in and not afford to get out of. Each song takes you to a different city, and each city has been run into the ground by a corrupt mayor, a greedy baseball team, or a drug-addled police force. But deep in every city are streets where you grew up, rivers you swam in on summer days, and deep in every song is a determination to be hopeful, the realization that the struggle to survive creates the meaning in our lives.
The album was recorded in studios and kitchens and basements and community music centers all over Portland. For the most part, the rough honest sounds of the kitchen won out over the safer sounds of the studio, but they're all in there mixed up, and it would be hard to tell now which tracks cost dollars and which tracks cost pennies. The album features some of the most talented musicians in Portland, all playing for the love of song. Members of the bands Point Juncture WA, Sounds Like Fun, Heroes & Villains, Horse Feathers, The Maybe Happening, and The Kitchen Syncopators all make appearances.
The 7 Stations has a diverse instrumentation. Some songs have dark and twisted clarinet lines running throughout. Some have the lush and comforting vibraphone poking through. Others feature beautiful interplay between violins and trumpets. Sometimes a haunting banjo plays with an hopeful glockenspiel. Somehow, though, they all manage to line up and look into the camera for the class picture.