Reviewed by Tony Cummings
Make a note in your diary.November.that's when Mike Jenkins is released. And if you respond "Mike Who?" which wouldn't be an unreasonable response considering this is Mike's first proper album (a demo quality cassette made years back doesn't really count) you'll be singing a different tune once you get to hear this hugely talented Welsh singer/songwriter. For Mike isn't some gauche beginner who's taken his first batch of half decent songs into the studio but a far-from-young songsmith who has written hundreds of songs, played thousands of gigs and travelled the world for years as a consummate troubadour. Now at long last this wise and winsome observer of life both temporal and spiritual, has made a journey down to Glebe Farm, near Aylesbury, which though not close to Mike's Cardiff home, is somewhat nearer than Iraq, Russia and Australia and all the other places this musical journeyman has travelled to down the years plying his art. The music Mike has made with that most underrated of record producers, Phil Goss is dazzling. Mike's delicately picked acoustic is the perfect foil to his warm, expressive voice while his songs, hand picked from his vast stockpile, are beautifully crafted and continually give off the air of being honed in the crucible of live performance. They are a diverse bunch - a reflection on addictions of the past, "Gingerbread House"; a song about the power of the Holy Spirit falling "For The Sake Of My Religion"; a powerful pre-conversion song from 1984 "Broadway" written when Mike was living on the streets of New York; a congregation's differing responses - some enthusiastic, some dismissive to the healing river of God's Spirit, "Love Again". My favourites are the moodily ethereal "Landing Light" with its moody arrangement and the beautifully wistful "Broken", both with delightful Goss embellishments. But now several of his acoustic-only songs are eating their way into my memory banks too. This has to be one of the best acoustic-oriented albums of the year. Thoroughly recommended.
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