Spirit In The Room
added: 23 May 2012
// release date: 21 May 2012 // label: Island Records
reviewer: David Spencer
Tom Jones’ slightly disconcerting looks at female contestants on The Voice and his constant references to “when I met Elvis” make him an easy target for ridicule. But his input on the Saturday night show has mostly been quite refreshing, and the success underlines Jones’ ability to continually adapt.
After a quiet few years he became cool again for recording Prince’s Kiss, recorded a duets album with the likes of Cerys Matthews and Stereophonics and is now firmly established among the greats category for British singers of the last 40 years.
Musically, his last outing Praise and Blame elevated him to critical acclaim once again (although 2008’s predecessor 24 Hours had seen a certain return to form) and here he has looked to repeat the same trick. Back on board is producer Ethan Jones, whose classy gloss no doubt helps make the album work. At the heart though is the quality and choice of song.
Jones has reflected on the pertinence of opening Tower of Song’s lyric “All my friends have gone and my hair is grey, I ache in the places where I used to play.” The line could certainly have been written for him and it underlines how well chosen these songs are. A powerful performance of Tower of Song on Jools Holland’s Later proved how Jones has ‘made it his own’ as they like to say on The Voice. The line ‘I was born with the gift of a golden voice’ is not one many of those contestants could carry off, but for Jones it sounds perfect.
Alongside that Leonard Cohen classic, there are also well chosen songs from Paul Simon (Love and Blessings) and the delightful (I Want To) Come Home, a song McCartney wrote only a few years ago. Of course it helps on cover albums to choose well, and choose songs that are less famous, but even the gospel classic Soul of A Man sounds like it could be Jones’ song. The quality does not quite sustain all the way through but there is no doubt that what you hear on Spirit In The Room will not make you squirm quite like The Voice judge’s renditions of more up to date pop can do on a Sunday evening.
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