Style: American folk and blues; compare to latter-day Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan
Top tracks: "Lord Help," "Did Trouble Me," "If I Give My Soul"
Forget his trademark kitsch: Praise and Blame has been heralded as Tom Jones' very own American Recordings. But where those latter-day Johnny Cash albums tended to obsess on the morose, Jones and producer Ethan Johns turn in a vigorous set of robust, full-throated performances—they're stark, but also full of life. Jones, who recently turned 70, sings the blues here, culling his material from gospel standards, American spirituals, and a particularly fervent Dylan cut, "What Good Am I?" But this is no mere covers album; it's a composition about a man at the crossroads, a chronicle of spiritual awakening, of choices between right and wrong, with heaven and hell very much in the balance.
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