By Josh Elmer
During Thanksgiving Break I ventured downstairs and watched some television with my Nan. We were in for a treat–Tom Jones was one of the guests. My Nan (who has been Jonesin’ for nearly 40 years) and I witnessed Jones’ debut single from 24 Hours, his first album of original songs in nearly 10 years.
With grunge-inspired rock riffs, Tom Jones proclaiming that he is, in fact “ALIVE,” he is “REAL,” and he is, still, in fact, a “MAN,” “I’m Alive” is a fun, albeit strange first song on his new album (it was also the song he played on TV). It is clear that even though Jones has gained a few pounds, lost some hair and had a few fake tans, that he still has a powerful and compelling voice.
“If He Should Ever Leave You,” a mellow, more traditional song finds the vocal powerhouse singing a familiar tune about unrequited love from a married woman–something Jones probably receives a great deal more of nowadays.
Jones also has fun funk and gospel infusions sprinkled liberally through the album. I find myself grooving to “Give a Little Love,” a saucy Sly & the Family Stone inspired tune with a catchy tuba-led beat and trumpet line. “Seasons” starts with a slow fender Rhodes piano chord progression that respectfully shouts awesome. I never knew Tom Jones had so much soul.
“Seen That Face,” the attempt at a hard-rock ballad with a bad drum machine and a strange synthesizer/piano, and the title track “24 Hours,” a traditional ballad without synthesizer, but still with drum machine are the album’s only weaknesses. It seems Jones, like most older men, needed to take a nap. With “More than Memories” he regains his horns and his double entendre to triumphantly conclude the album.
This album is definitely not what I was expecting, but that is not a bad thing. Even though many rag on Tom Jones, he still possesses a great vocal talent, which is on display here. The only complaint I heard from my Nan when he was performing on Regis and Kelly was the fact that he didn’t “move like he used to,” but then again, neither can most of his audience.