fri 05/03/2021

CD: Tom Jones - Long Lost Suitcase | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Tom Jones - Long Lost Suitcase

CD: Tom Jones - Long Lost Suitcase

Diverse and supposedly autobiographical songs end up sounding too similar

Sir Tom Jones: the suitcase is gone, but what about the other baggage of his earlier life?

Sir Tom Jones’ recording career has enjoyed an Indian summer for the first two releases of this trilogy, 2010’s Praise & Blame and 2012’s Spirit In The Room.

Sir Tom Jones’ recording career has enjoyed an Indian summer for the first two releases of this trilogy, 2010’s Praise & Blame and 2012’s Spirit In The Room. This concluding album, another collaboration with producer Ethan Johns, returns to a similar heritage hinterland of folk, country and Sixties rock, though with more explicitly personal overtones: it accompanies an autobiography, Over The Top And Back (a “self-penned” autobiography, it’s promised), published next week.   

Sir Tom is still in fine voice, that baritone as firm and dark as seasoned mahogany, but in a rather massive, overwhelming fashion that overpowers all other musical traces, booming and creaking along with the subtlety of one of Nelson’s galleons spying the French fleet. For the rock and R&B it works pretty well, but on a Willie Nelson or Lonnie Johnson setting it’s rather a blunt instrument. The arrangements boast much fine playing that varies more than Jones’ delivery, with some atmospheric acoustic playing on the folk and country tracks and some fine, vintage R&B guitar on “I Wish You Would”, for example. But Jones’ voice is such a strong flavour that they all end up sounding more similar than they should. A cynic might say that some of them are chosen with a view to what demographically appropriate radio stations will play, and what their audience will buy.

Of course, we don’t yet know how the songs tie in with the autobiography. Some titles are also used as chapter headings so there’ll presumably be reflections on his friendship with Elvis and his prolific breaking of both hearts and musical records. Other songs are a little more intriguing. Might “Opportunity To Cry” refer to his sacking from The Voice? A secret Willie Nelson debt may yet be revealed. I’m not holding my breath, and neither is Sir Tom, who’s made an enjoyably breezy record of a diverse range of songs that just end up sounding a bit too similar. With its 16-page booklet, this release has a certain coffee-table bling factor, and will likely appeal to his core fans. Fans of the original songs, not so much.

@matthewwrighter

Comments

cant wait for the release of both of these.xx

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