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Liverpool Sound and Vision 18th June 2021 - If You Can't Forgive You Can't Love" Album Review

"5 Stars"

"Outstanding"

"Arguably his finest set of songs to date"

‘Kathleen’ is out today. I’m very thankful to the musicians who helped me reimagine this gem in Townes Van Zandt’s songbook. It comes ahead of my new album If You Can’t Forgive You Can’t Love.

You can stream and download ‘Kathleen’ here”: https://linktr.ee/kathleensingle

And pre-order the new album here: https://johnjenkinsmusic.bandcamp.com/track/kathleen

 

Short Biography

 

Fretsore Records recording artist John Jenkins  is carving out a path for himself as a renowned singer/songwriter on the UK folk, country and Americana scene.

 

 

Medium Biography

Fretsore Records recording artist John Jenkins is the prodigal son of Liverpool music.

His return to the game in 2015 was prompted by an Internet-led revival of interest in his former bands The Persuaders and Come In Tokio. Both made waves in the eighties - Peel sessions, Echo & The Bunnymen supports etc. - but ultimately ran out of steam before reaching the promised land of success.

Songwriter Jenkins went underground, but never stopped writing. “The years just passed,” sighs JJ. “The songs continued to come, but I did nothing with them. I’ve always been a fan of great songs and my listening led my writing closer to the songs of roots and country… or Americana as they now call it.”

Jenkins really dipped his toe back into the mainstream with 2016’s ‘Trains’, a tour de force of Songwriting. All those songs Jenkins had stockpiled over the years now came to the fore and, in 2017, the double album ‘Window Shopping In Nashville’ arrived. With the patronage of The British Country Music Association and Americana Music Association UK, not to mention critical plaudits from the likes of R2 Magazine, Fatea and the Nashville Songwriters Association International, Jenkins was back. JJ and his James Street Band entered the studio to record ‘Looking For That American Dream’ in 2019, followed by ‘Growing Old - Songs From My Front Porch’ at the start of 2020. “I started writing more directly and the record was the darker side of me coming to the fore I suppose,” says John. “The likes of ‘Daniel White’, ‘I’m Almost Over You’ and ‘Jackson’s Farm’ are amongst some of my best songs and it’s an album I’m really proud of.”

The songwriter isolated close to the Mersey in 2020 and carried on writing. “Writing songs is the thing I love to do most in this world, and I’ll never stop,” he smiles. “It’s funny, the older you get the more it means.”

Long Biography

Fretsore Records recording artist John Jenkins is the prodigal son of Liverpool music.

His return to the game in 2015 was prompted by an Internet-led revival of interest in his former bands The Persuaders and Come In Tokio. Both made waves in the eighties - Peel sessions, Echo & The Bunnymen supports etc. - but ultimately ran out of steam before reaching the promised land of success.

 

Songwriter Jenkins went underground, but never stopped writing. Years passed and Scouser JJ stockpiled hundreds of songs, working away in the coastal town of Meols on the other side of the River Mersey. Love, life, and loss all played their part in Jenkins’ disappearance, but the songs continued to come and in 2015 the multi-instrumentalist and singer decided it was time to let the light back in. “Writing songs is where my heart lies,” reveals Jenkins. “But it was time to let people hear my work.” Getting back in touch with friends on the Liverpool scene, JJ entered a song into a local Songwriting competition and promptly walked away with victory. Bringing local press attention and offers of gigs, the win was a rebirth for a creative muse that had lay dormant far too long. “The years just passed,” sighs JJ. “The songs continued to come, but I did nothing with them. I’ve always been a fan of great songs and my listening led my writing closer to the songs of roots and country… or Americana as they now call it.” A genre nobody can quite put their finger on, the Americana world welcomed Jenkins into their scene and critical acclaim followed. Singles, EPs, and acoustic gigs all happened, before Jenkins really dipped his toe back into the mainstream with 2016’s ‘Trains’.

The album was a tour de force of Songwriting, dripping with melody and malady, and earned Jenkins a 9/10 rating from Liverpool Sound & Vision. Songs such as the title track, ‘The Paris Wife’ and ‘Sweet Delphine”’ all garnered radio airplay and the songwriter began to build up a head of steam.

 

All those songs Jenkins had stockpiled over the years now came to the fore and, in 2017, the double album ‘Window Shopping In Nashville’ arrived. With the patronage of The British Country Music Association and Americana Music Association UK, not to mention critical plaudits from the likes of R2 Magazine, Fatea and the Nashville Songwriters Association International, Jenkins was back, and his next move continued the upward trajectory.

 

“I’d been playing with a group of friends for a while and the idea for The James Street Band crystallised from there,” says John. The James Street Band got busy being born on Merseyside in the latter half of the last decade. A full band sound, occasionally boosted by fiddle, pedal steel and backing singers, was exactly what was required to push Jenkins’ to the next level and, following performances across the north in clubs and at festivals, The James Street Band entered the studio to record next album ‘Looking For That American Dream’. Arriving in 2019, the record was met with the best reviews of JJ’s career (“a Liverpool band that demands national attention,” Americana UK; “never fails to please”, Lonesome Highway) and its collection of heartland rockers and bruised ballads took Jenkins’ songs to their biggest audience yet. High profile support slots with the likes of Squeeze’s Chris Difford and roots favourite Jarrod Dickenson helped boost JJ’s profile and the songs continued to pour out of him: ‘Day After Day’, ‘Why?’ and ‘Katie’ all cemented Jenkins’ reputation as a songwriter’s songwriter and the gigs continued to come in and sell tickets.

 

‘Growing Old - Songs From My Front Porch’ came next at the start of 2020 and the album was a collection of work centred on mortality and the passing of time. Jenkins threw out his technicolour dreams and went noir on a set of tunes to melt the hardest of hearts. “I started writing more directly and the record was the darker side of me coming to the fore I suppose,” says John. “The likes of ‘Daniel White’, ‘I’m Almost Over You’ and ‘Jackson’s Farm’ are amongst some of my best songs and it’s an album I’m really proud of.” Once again, reviews were good and high praise came from respected journals such as PennyBlack (“an emotional blueprint”) and Liverpool Acoustic (“a defiant piece of work”). As the pandemic hit, many songwriters took the time to take stock, play live streams or record cover albums. Not JJ… he isolated close to the Mersey and carried on writing: ‘Cracks’, ‘Desert Hearts’, ‘The Last Train To Baltimore’... the songs continued to arrive and Jenkins decamped to Liverpool’s Crosstown Studios to record a brand-new album to be released in 2021. “Writing songs is the thing I love to do most in this world, and I’ll never stop,” he smiles. “It’s funny, the older you get the more it means.”

"One To Watch" January 2021 - Nashville Songwriters Association International