Tom Jones has been in music for over 50 years but he is just as active as ever even now that he is in his 70s. New album, 'Spirit in the room', follows on from Jones' hugely successful 2010 album, 'Praise and Blame.' It picks up where that album left off with full focus on the Welshman's unmistakeable voice as he makes his way through another selection of tastefully chosen covers. Ethan Johns, known for producing Kings of Leon, is once again in the chair after he produced 'Praise and Blame' which was a collection of Blues and Gospel songs.
'Spirit in the room' features covers from the likes of Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and Paul McCartney. As is always the case with Jones, he takes songs from artists and puts his own take on them while at the same time emphasising the quality of the original songwriter. This is also aided by the sparse instrumentation which takes away the notion of any studio jiggery pokery and allows the songs and Jones' voice to soar.
Normally, it would take balls of steel to kick off any album with a Leonard Cohen cover, but this is a Tom Jones album and he tackles Cohen's 'Tower of song' head on. Jones' voice has an air of fragility and honesty, and this sets the tone for the rest of the album.
Now, if you were to close your eyes while Jones' cover of Odetta's 'hit or miss' was playing, you could be forgiven in thinking you've been whisked off to Greendale to visit Postman Pat and Jess the cat. Although, for coincidently sounding like the Postman Pat theme tune it is a small price to pay to hear Jones at full throttle on one of the singles taken from the album. Jones' cover of Tom Waits' 'Bad as me' sees the Welshman at his most swagger-like on the album, bringing in those sultry tones that once left female fans weak at the knees. This is the sound of a man having fun with a song when there is no label pressure and he has the voice to conquer almost any song.
'Spirit in the room' is the sound of an artist finally becoming comfortable in his own skin. In 2010, Tom Jones finally produced the sort of work that he wanted to after decades of safe mainstream success in the shape of his big hits. Jones will always be proud of his collective body of work through his career but it is suspected that he will be particularly enjoying his time at being able to finally tip his hat to the artists that shaped him and performing other songs that he enjoys.
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