This is Tom's first studio CD since 2002. And it marks his turning 70.
(And whilst we are dealing with numbers, let's acknowledge the fact that his body of recorded work is immense: he now has over 40 albums under his belt. And there has not been a dud amongst them.)
This latest is a mix of new and old. There he is on the cover, resplendent in his trademark Dutch barge captain's cap, looking for all the world like a character straight out of a Van Gogh painting. And inside the CD cover, we find Tom on disc using colours vivid enough not to disgrace Vincent's palate.
The album was recorded in Nashville by frequent Paxton producer Jim Rooney (who also contributes backing vocals), and features several of the musicians who appeared on that 2002 CD. Foremost amongst them are Tim Crouch on mandolin and fiddle, and Al Perkins on Dobro and slide guitar. The contribution of both was immense.
The album is dedicated to his beloved wife Midge. And of course that is only fitting, since several of the love-songs are/were penned with her in mind. And it is an album that proves worthy of a special “round number” birthday.
I tended to like the old love songs best. And most of them come up as fresh as a daisy in this new package. But push me to name a couple of them that come off worse, and I'd have to say “What A Friend You Are” and - perhaps – “Home To Me (Is Anywhere You Are)”.
Why? Well, with the former I cannot hear the song without recalling the glorious harmony voice of Mary Hopkin on Tom's original from the 70s. And with the latter, pretty much the same thing: the chorus harmonies from Anne Hills and the late Bob Gibson on the Best of Friends version are just unsurpassable.
A fine album, with only one track that seems out of place: “Jennifer and Kate”, the saccharine hymn of praise to his two daughters. It is probably his insurance policy to ensure that they don't at some future stage get him sectioned or sent off to an old folk's home.
No danger of that. I reckon Tom will still be making quality albums twenty years from now.
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