Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson
If the general theme of John Jenkins’ new album is perhaps lost youth, the ageing process and mortality, then the songs are delivered in a deceivingly youthful voice. The immediate expectation, judging by the cover shot, is of old time fiddle tunes from the Appalachian Mountains, yet Growing Old, subtitled Songs From My Front Porch, is far from this. Each of the dozen songs are accompanied by a simple guitar-led arrangement, with an emphasis on people, locations and time; the lonely war hero in “Daniel White” for instance, or the dark backwoods of the Townes Van Zandt influenced “Bear Lake County” to the highly personal temporal meditation embedded in the title song.
The Liverpool singer songwriter is joined by one or two additional singers and musicians, each of whom help to lift the already strong arrangements. There’s a Celtic feel to “Heartlands”, emphasised through the fiddle and flute accompaniment, courtesy of Amy Chalmers and Andy Connolly respectively. Then there’s a rich vocal duet with Siobhan Maher-Kennedy on the tender “The Mountain Between Us”, whilst the elements are on hand to help give “Jackson’s Farm” all the necessary atmosphere. Good songs, well played and delivered with humility.
Choice Track: Jackson’s Farm (NSV 505)