1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A pleasant surprise; soulful and raw,
This review is from: Praise & Blame (Audio CD)
What a revelation: this ageing pop tenor, heartrendingly seeking forgiveness, compassion, a way out of here, in an album of very sparse, tightly constructed "old" (mostly American) songs. His tremulous virtuosity lends itself marvellously to these tunes, which feel like blues/bluegrass/gospel even when they're not. Tom Jones' time making country records wasn't wasted.
"Praise and Blame" seems to have been intuitively made by a man without an awful lot to prove - except to his family; to his God (the things that matter more, now). If I've had the wool pulled over my eyes; if this is a cynical attempt to "Cash" (sorry) in on the vogue for ageing singers producing stripped-back roots albums, then good - I'm happy to be hoodwinked.
I don't love every single track on the album. Some uptempo tracks sound like Hootenanny singalongs; but I play quiet, raw, low-fi tracks like "Did Trouble Me" and "If I Give My Soul" over and over; they're extraordinary.
Funny that the BBC review on the front page of this site suggests the album's a failure; that Jones' "charm was never based on his authenticity", and drawing those inevitable Johnny Cash comparisons. I'm not sure I agree: a miner's son, singing his way out of the workingmen's clubs, living out a gaudy Vegas life, having a comeback, and then another, and still out there busking away, decades later? I think that's as authentic as it gets.
I know the old world he sings about and from; the religious world; where your elders placed spiritual burdens on you. I never threw a pair of knickers, don't care about his "Las Vegas" years, about the hips. I hope I can project an ounce of that yearning and desperation, that soul, into my voice when I'm his age.