Most of us, upon turning 70, start slowing down and dreaming of a retirement patch in Florida or planning extended golfing holidays in the Algarve. Not Tom Jones.
He may have mellowed from a Welsh Tiger to a Silver Fox, but he still hits you with his best shot with the release of "Burning Hell/What Good Am I?" from his forthcoming album Praise and Blame. The album, which is a collection of American blues and gospel songs, is not as much of a departure for Jones as one might think. Nearly 50 years ago, as a young gun performing in the workingmens' clubs in the Valleys, that is exactly how he started.
The John Lee Hooker classic “Burning Hell” has been slowed and bared down to an angry guitar riff with a sparse rhythm section backing up Tom’s throaty vocals. It’s a stripped down, harder rock interpretation of the blues classic, as Tom let’s his famous voice rip, taunting the devil himself to answer the guestion “When I die, where I go?” Raw and honest stuff.
“What Good Am I” is a Bob Dylan cover from his 1989 album Oh, Mercy and this is where Jones really shines. Separating the boys from the men and giving the younger generation a masterclass on how to interpret a song, his version feels like a quiet prayer from a man who has lived and loved, and is now, in his twilight years, examining his moral worth. His vocals are heartfelt and haunting and the intimate and near austere production only add to its power.
One hundred million albums later in a career that’s spanning nearly half a century, and the best is still yet to come. Mesmerizing.