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    Tom Jones

    Praise And Blame( 2010 )
    What Good Am I? / Lord Help / Did Trouble Me / Strange Things / Burning Hell / If I Give My Soul / Don't Knock / Nobody's Fault But Mine / Didn't It Rain / Ain't No Grave / Run On

    Tom has been a good musical businessman for quite some time, always making clever choices about which direction to take his career in. This time around he hooks up with Ethan Johns and guests include Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings and BJ Cole. It's naturally an album of cover versions and goes down the Johnny Cash 'American Recordings' route, which actually suits the now grey-haired and Seventy year old Tom down to the ground. He could probably be produced by Daniel Lanois next time around for something similar, yet different enough. This album has enjoyed healthy sales and success and Tom will surely follow-it up with something of a companion piece. The songs here are often religious, not hymns yet fearing religion as much as praising god, hence 'Burning Hell'. 'Burning Hell' is quite some track, marrying Tom's still ever so loud voice to some kind of White Stripes, stripped back blues-rock. 'Did Trouble Me' opens with Tom alone, singing properly and not shouting. A solitary bass comes in and this track is as stripped back as it's possible to be initially before guitar and drums softly enter. Tom sings absolutely properly, a track to play to any doubters of his talent, me included in that. This is a mid-tempo, religious number sang absolutely straight and yes, ranks alongside any similar effort Johnny Cash did with his American Recordings, high praise indeed. Also, listen to 'Lord Help' and admire the band Tom has here, strong drums, proper bass and a lead guitar than lends an authentic, blues feel. The backing track alone is excitement personified and Tom got real lucky with these guys. Yes, Tom sings loudly and with passion yet without sounding as if he feels the words, which is a shame, yet this overall is another great track.

    He sings Dylan's 'What Good Am I' and it's a dirge. He sings the swingin' 'Didn't It Rain' and i'm reminded of a great Tom Waits rain song. I like rain songs. I also like songs involving running or walking, because I do a lot of lonely running or walking in the rain. Marching songs. 'Run On' is a good one. 'We heard church people SAY!' sings Tom, still occasionally forgetting that subtly is a word that exists. Still, 'Praise And Blame' quite easily is the best album he has ever released. Fine 'Rhythm and Blues', old style.

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    Readers Comments

    Indeed a very, very strong album. As you point out, the band he has is GREAT, especially on tracks such as "Lord Help". I don't know who these folks are, but they cannot be your ordinary session type musicians, for they can play some good music. They don't play perfectly, for one thing, but they play with some grit that sounds... genuine, something some would argue is rare for a Tom Jones album. Also, the songs suit himself Tom very well. The years have been good to his voice, as he now sounds like a man worth listening to. He could've been a prominent church singer, had he taken this road earlier on. My one complaint with the record would be the atmospheric synthesizers on songs such as "What Good Am I" and "Ain't No Grave", as the record is otherwise blissfully free from too obvious signs of the times, and does indeed have some qualities of the ages.

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    this page last updated 11/09/11

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