From Tokyo’s Budokan to New York City’s Madison Square Garden, professional bassist Kevin Jenkins has, in his 38-year career, played many a great concert venue. He has also played with and for some great artists such as Michael Jackson, The Police, and Tina Turner.
Released this month, Til the Story’s Told is Jenkins’ second album, written during a time of great personal ups and downs: the loss of his father, his new happy marriage, and the birth of a grandchild. And so it is quite apt that the album seeks to understand more about love, loss, acceptance, and new beginnings through the sounds of blues, soul, and R&B.
Jenkins (lead vocals and bass) is supported by Tomas Doncker (guitars and vocals), Mo Roberts (drums), Michael Faulkner (drums and vocals), Nick Rolf (keyboards), David Barnes (harmonica), Alan Grubner (violin), and Heather Powell (vocals). Some of these names are no doubt familiar to those following New York City’s fast-rising True Groove Records label.
The opening track, a remake of Norman Greenbaum’s 1969 “Spirit in the Sky”, is also featured on the True Groove All-Stars album Fully Re-Covered. The original rock classic is reinvented as an energetic, yet mellow, bluesy, and very sticky track that starts with a zen-like chanting of the names of some of the Manifestations of God before an electric guitar kicks in. Jenkins’ voice is rich, clear, and comfortable, and the instrumentation is of the same quality as it has been in all the other albums produced by this label.
The Americana elements of “Tangled Up” send listeners down a nostalgic road. The easy groove, set by electric guitar and drums, seems to send us on a journey guided by Jenkins’ vocals.
“Janie’s Silver Lining” isn’t a song as much as it is a story, one that many will no doubt relate to. Janie, seemingly a sweet individual, is burdened by the sorrow of her unsuccessful daily struggle to break out of the prison she has built her life into. While quieter than the preceding two tracks, it retains a certain bouncy, almost cheerful factor, as if the silver lining manages to brighten her life enough to give her the hope of a cheerier future.
The acoustic “Why” kicks off the second trio of tracks on the album with muted overtones that lull the listener in. The only thing that might disconcert some is the keyboard, seconds-long ending to the track that comes off a little unnecessary and somewhat jarring. The title tune is an upbeat, foot-tapping, guitar and tambourine-led number featuring Powell’s talented voice as very enjoyable backing vocals in a gospel choir-like chorus.
The album finishes off with “Crazy Weather”, yet another song that, perhaps indirectly, alludes to crisis and victory and, ultimately, to salvation, this time through the metaphor contained in the title of the track. The song features a heavy, big bass and a distorted lead guitar, making it a blues-imbibed rock song. Jenkins’ vocals again pass the test as they easily travel large ranges in pursuit of the melody.
Pictures provided by Independent Music Promotions.
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