TOM JONES ‘Surrounded by Time’


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Surrounded by Time is magnificent — it’s redolent with wisdom and a raging lust for life that is free of camp. It offers abundant proof that despite the passing of years, Jones has lost none his power or swagger.

In 2012, Tom Jones – one of the elite few who can say they’ve had a drink with Elvis and done an interview on Zoom – covered Leonard Cohen’s ‘Tower Of Song’. The Welsh star did such a good job, you could well believe the song was written for him, “born with the gift of a golden voice”.

Jones has been trapped in various towers of song for much of his career: the steamrollering success of his early material, a never-ending seventies Vegas stint, contractually-bound country in the eighties, and in the nineties? Sex bombs and string vests. Say no more.

And if Cohen was born in a suit, Jones was born in a tux – or so you might assume. But over the past decade, producer Ethan Johns has resurrected Jones from casino crooner to serious singer, with a trio of Americana albums. Taking notes from the late-career triumphs of Cohen and Johnny Cash, Johns dropped the bellowing arrangements and honed in on the rhythm and blues potential of Jones’ sixties output, wisely separating his music career from his showbiz TV career in the process.

‘Surrounded by Time’, Jones’ fortieth studio album, and fourth with Johns, continues to centre his baritone gravitas – but wants it darker, with existential electronica. Twelve songs are recast to fit the eighty-year-old’s wide-spanning life, mixing modern arrangements with sixties nods.