Fundamentally, what Tom has done has been to listen to Solomon Burke's Don't Give Up On Me and Nashville, and combine it with the late period renaissance of Johnny Cash.
Both this album, and Praise & Blame, have their roots in the albums of messrs Burke and Cash. Burke misfired, as he followed up Don't Give Up On Me with an over-produced, poorly selected album, Make Do With What You Got: Don Was being the culprit. Tom shows no sign of doing this, but I'd steer clear of the shallow reality TV Shows for the air-headed generation on Saturday evenings, and concentrate on being a serious artist.
I would add that the roots of this album were shown in Tom rediscovering his blues mojo on the Mike Figgis documentary Red, White, & Blue, and on the collaboration with Jools Holland.
The album in question has some amazing tracks. I appreciate the track Charlie Darwin, particularly, as it combines folk with almost Hilliard Ensemble chanting. Tom is also unafraid of that great non-voice Bob Dylan, in that he covers When The Deal Goes Down - 21st century Dylan to boot. Likewise, I am sure Tom found Lone Pilgrim on Dylan's 1993 blues/folk album World Gone Wrong. I would also add that All Blues Hail Mary is a Joe Henry cover, and that Joe produced Solomon Burke's comeback album, Don't Give Up On Me. I wonder what Tom could do if he explores more of Joe's back catalogue. A cover of Stop would be amazing, or God only Knows.
What Tom does to Just Dropped In also shows that he has stripped this song to it's essence, and that it is far superior to Willie Nelson's cover on The Great Divide.
Tower of Song shows that Tom's gift as an interpreter remains strong. Marianne Faithfull also covered this to aplomb, as did Martha Wainwright. I wonder what Tom could do to Everybody Knows, or Waiting For The Miracle. Maybe they could be next.
Dimming of The Day is oft-covered, and was Richard Thompson's sufi devotional hymn from Pour Down Like Silver; a great album in its own right. Lately, Alison Krauss did a marvellous version on the Transatlantic Sessions. Bonnie Raitt did a version with Paul Brady. Again, you wonder if Tom is singing about a woman or a higher power. It is astonishingly beautiful. You also wonder how Tom would do, covering Dylan's I Believe in You, or Pressing On, or Every Grain of Sand.
Bad As Me is Tom doing Tom Waits. It's a great cover, but I wonder how Tom would cope with a Waits ballad. Could he do something absolutely transcendental, like Cash doing Down There By The Train, or Innocent When You Dream, or Diamond In Your Mind. Tom doing Innocent When You Dream would be amazing, or even The Fall of Troy. It also knocks Rod Stewart's mangling of Downtown Train and Tom Traubert's Blues into the proverbial cocked hat. You could also wonder what Tom would be like doing Black Wings.
Soul of A Man is the old Blind Willie Johnson gospel blues number. Couple that with Odetta's Hit or Miss, and you know that Tom is no longer the knicker-throwing medallion man, but a serious blues scholar. This isn't Chicago, this is the real folk blues. You wonder if a Robert Johnson tribute album, or Tom cutting loose on Charley Patton would be a viable option next. Certainly, he covered Howlin Wolf's Evil last year with Jack White, and Wolf was influenced by Charley Paton.
All in all, buy the deluxe version: it is great. You just wonder though what is next ? Tom sings Beefheart wouldn't be that much of a surprise. Imagine Sure Enuff n Yes I do done by him, with an amazing slide guitar solo ?