If You Can’t Forgive, You Can’t Love
Extremely Thoughtful and Well Constructed Songs that Will Intrigue and Captivate.
We liked Liverpudlian, John Jenkins ‘ last album GROWING OLD (Songs From the Porch) so much we said that it was “Destined to Linger Long in The Memory” and we meant it and it has.
Jump forward two years and a whole a pandemic later and the follow up; follows a similar if ‘edgier’ path on the Americana/Folk highway.
The opening track A Stranger to Your Heart instantly introduces us to the new direction with a powerful tale of love of the unrequited guitar work and some frightening violin playing that reminded me of the extraordinary playing by Graeme Smith many years ago in String Driven Thing.
Before you have the chance to catch your breath, Jenkins drops the mini-musical Soap Opera, Is That What They Say on us. If you take Jenkins’ singing away from the mix it will still be a very poignant story anyway; but again the instrumentation here, with the introduction of a razor sharp harmonica alongside that impressive violin take this song into a whole new dimension.
I had drinks with a friend last week who has began immersing himself in all things Dylan again; because; “There’s no new music around these days that interests me.“
We’ve had this conversation before and I know it’s fruitless to argue; so changed the subject and I’m sure you know someone similar.
Now; I’m not for one moment saying John Jenkins is the ‘new Bob Dylan’ … he’s not; but this album and songs like Cracks or the fabulous Strangers On a Train and latterly Desert Hearts should, in many ways intrigue the average Bob Dylan fan or at least the average singer-songwriter fan. Extremely thoughtful and constructed songs that again take Folk Music into the Americana time zone via the Mersey Tunnel.
For the second time in as many years I’ve been very impressed with not just John Jenkins’ songwriting; but his singing too; a mellow yet deep voice that adds an extra lustre to The End of Summer and the Gospel tinged The Other Side of Sadness; which wouldn’t sound half as passionate if not sung with that slight Liverpool ‘twang.’
If only John had been born and raised in North America the broadsheets and radio shows would be fawning all over him when they heard Moon and June or the punchy sing-along When The Morning Comes too.
For once this is an album from a singer-songwriter that you can enjoy equally as well in the car or doing the ironing on a Sunday night; as for once someone in that ouvre isn’t afraid of a melody and a chorus.
Which all brings me to two stand out songs that are vying for the accolade of RMHQ Favourite Song.
The deceptively gentle Last Train From Baltimore which has all the hallmarks of a Classic American Folk Song by Paul Simon or Guy Clark; both completely different I know … but when you hear this song you will understand where I’m coming from.
Living Someone Else’s Life, on the other hand, is a desperately complex story sung over a delightfully delicate acoustic guitar that will will take time to unfurl and leave you sighing …. “Oooooohhhh Oh!”
I desperately don’t want to jeep John Jenkins’ talents to myself like some ‘secret love;’ he’s far too good for that …. treat yourself to something new from someone you’ve never heard of.
You can thank me later.
Released August 6th 2022
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