Tom Jones: Praise & Blame

Tom Jones: Praise & Blame
70-year-old Welsh singer, Tom Jones is amongst the world’s greatest living crooners. He emerged in the 1960s, releasing hits like “It’s Not Unusual”, “What’s New Pussycat?”, and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”. Since that time, he has consistently released albums. On his 39th studio album, Praise & Blame, Tom Jones departs from the pop-oriented sound that dominated his career and instead explores the barren world of gospel covers.
Let’s just get this out in the open, Praise & Blame is a cover album. The only song covered on the album that I had ever heard before was Bob Dylan‘s “What Good Am I?” When the most notable song covered on an album is a deep cut from Bob Dylan’s Oh Mercy, you know Tom Jones did some serious crate digging to make his selections.
The album’s lead single, “Did Trouble Me” is a cover of a Susan Werner tune. The track definitely shows off one genre explored on the album. The track is sparsely instrumented, instead letting Tom Jones’ soulful vocals shine on their own. Towards the end of the song an earthy combination of banjo and drums come in to accentuate the crescendo but do little to take away from Jones’ superior performance.
The other genre greatly explored on Praise & Blame is old time rock ‘n’ roll. “Strange Things” is a cover of 1940’s and 50’s gospel singer, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The track shows off a Chuck Berry-esque guitar while still maintaining the same soulful feel as “Did Trouble Me”.
The album’s soulful nature and absolutely perfect song selection makes it an easy album to love. Although it may not be what fans expect of Tom Jones, it will probably be on the short list for Grammy nominations simply because the instrumentation, the vocal work, and song selection are absolutely perfect. Praise & Blame may be Jones’ crowning achievement.
Rating: 8.5/10
MP3: Tom Jones “Strange Things”
Buy: iTunes

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