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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Tom Jones - Spirit in the Room

The new Tom Jones album is being touted as one full of covers.
Isn't that what Sir Tom does anyway?
Maybe it's just me, but covering songs is his thing isn't it?
It would seem that some would make a sort of distinction between those who sing other peoples songs, and those who sing established artists successful songs.
It's not actually of any relevance to me where the song came from though.
All that matters is the song itself, and how it is performed.
The facts are that Tom Jones is not known as a songwriter, but instead, like Elvis Presley, he is a great interpretor of other peoples material.
What he brings to the table is his voice, and what a voice it is.
He has the ability to make a good song great, and take a great song and fire it into the stratosphere.
All those years floating past under the bridge and his voice still resonates as strongly as it ever did.
I suspect that he may gargle with water from the fountain of youth as his vocals certainly sound immortal.
Put the strength of his voice aside for a moment though, and lets talk about his career for a second.
It would seem obvious that there's a great deal of parallels with the work of Johnny Cash and Rick Rubin on the American Recordings.
Both have had their trials and tribulations, then came back strong with some of the most critically acclaimed material of their careers, and then deservedly stepped firmly back into the spotlight as recording artists.
To continue to tread the same path then all he needed to do was follow Praise & Blame up with an album of equally artistic stature.
So how do I put this?
He just has.
While Praise & Blame was the opening salvo in the resurrection - and sounded like a manifesto of intent sung from the pulpit - I'm pretty sure that there would have been some whispers that it was a one off, and that the quality wouldn't be maintained for the next, but I'm very pleased to find that on Spirit in the Room that the material is of a similarly high quality, and just as powerful.
I have no idea who Tom Jones is working with when seeking out the material for these albums, but I would advocate that he continues the relationship as so far they haven't put a foot wrong.
It would be fair to say that on this outing the gospel and blues influence is more restrained, but his ability to meld the songs to his own strengths is where the magic lies, so even without what was perceived as the earthiness of Praise & Blame being on display this will still raise the hair on the back of your neck.
His interpretation of the Leanord Cohen song Tower of Song as the opening track sets the benchmark very high, and then the rest of the album maintains that level of excellence with nary a consideration of padding itself out with some filler.
I sincerely hope that he is aware that this is the path he should be treading and continues to release albums that will allow him to engage with everyone who appreciates quality music passionately performed.  

1 comment:

  1. That cover of Leanord Cohen isbetter than expected.