By Leila Regan-Porter
Late last fall we were graced with a new Tom Jones record. For the most part, it may have gone unnoticed. Though he has had recent success with "the kids" thanks to his DJ Mousse T's collaboration on "Sex Bomb" from his popular duets album Reload, things may have been a bit quiet on the new, original music side of things. But this latest release, 24 Hours, should have much more attention paid to it by all ages and levels of hipness.
Not only do the tracks fit in seamlessly with classic Tom Jones tracks, but they could easily contend with today's crooners. "If He Should Ever Leave You" could easily contest with the Burt Bacharach-penned "What's New Pussycat?" with glorious horn and string sections echoing the swinging '60s scene that Bacharach dominated. "Sugar Daddy," (penned by Bono and The Edge, oddly enough, since it's the tunes that utilizes and touts Jones' sexuality the most) stands up well to Jones' more flamboyant hits like his boisterous cover of Prince's "Kiss."
And then there's the tender, emotional and graphic "The Hitter," the possibly-overlooked Bruce Springsteen track from 2005's Devils and Dust. Most easily comparable to "Green Green Grass of Home," it stands alone as an epic example of the emotion Tom Jones puts in his songs, whether they are ones he's hand a hand in writing or interpretations of someone else's work. He embodies the character of the tired, worn out, washed-up boxer, giving a performance so believable that you can't help but search Jones' face for the scars from the punches.
"In Style And Rhythm," on the other hand, while extremely fun and enjoyable, has a distinctly modern sound, with a hip-swinging dance beat that is definitely reminiscent of Jones' former collaborator Mousse T. Yes, there are definitely echoes of the '70s, with the bossa nova-cum-disco drums and over-the-top horns, but the slick production of Modern Cut (producer of Lily Allen, among others) definitely makes its mark here, while still letting the true nature of Tom Jones shine through.
While Tom Jones will always be most remembered for his juggernaut success in the '60s and constant ability to give stellar performances, it is well worth giving his later works a listen. The old dog still has many tricks (new and old) left to perform.
Tom Jones plays Chastain Park Amphitheatre on July 31.