Friday, May 15, 2020 - Album Review - Growing Old (Songs From My Front Porch) - John Jenkins
John Jenkins is releasing a new album with an old feel! Growing Old (Songs from My front porch) has a theme running through it of reminiscing, of memories. The whole feel of the album reflects this, including the choice of instruments, with piano, soft violin, brushes on drums and strummed acoustic guitar. In a modern world of Spotify and single-only releases an album such as this can be savoured as a whole piece of work, and allows the mood to flow through all of the tracks so that rather than being 12 songs (plus a bonus) it is essentially one piece telling a fuller story.
Opening with Growing Old the tone is immediately set, and the tone of this song is cleverly set by the gentle, brushed drums ad words “I’m growing old” sung slowly, drawn out. He’s looking back over his life; he doesn’t like growing old but he accepts it. Daniel White shows off John’s storytelling voice, continuing the theme of looking back, using an almost martial drumbeat to talk about Daniel White’s time in the military, the violin emphasising the emotion, as we are asked to consider looking at what used to be there.
Heartlands uses an old house for a metaphor for a life, a relationship and for moving on while A Mothers Devotion tells the story form a mother’s point of view wondering if she somehow has affected how her son turned out in a way she didn’t want. The haunting mandolin in the long intro to this song lends a real folk feel.
The Mountain Between Us introduces the stunning voice of Siobhan Maher-Kennedy (River City People) as a couple discuss their relationship and the mountain that seems to be obstructing their happiness, with a wonderful upturn at the end as they agree to climb that mountain together.
Bear Lake County is a little more up-tempo, but about a guy with a past, a secret he is hiding from and a family he has lost – so he drinks, he works, and he hopes that someone will say a prayer “for his daddy’s son”. Dying By Inches is regretting a society where things always seemed better in the past and has a simply gorgeous harmonica solo, Jacksons Farm was the first single and the storyteller is looking back on a love, on a life, remembering how it was with memories all around him, while A Wiser Man Than Me sees our storyteller seeking advice from someone who has walked the same roads – but that man is himself in the mirror.
I’m almost Over You is a simple arrangement of a tale of getting over someone – but still missing their presence in your life and by contrast I’m Coming Home is an everyday story of a love that has lasted many years, with many memories but they are still together. A reflective but uplifting song. The album’s story ends with The Last Song which, according to John’s sleeve notes, is actually inspired by a bird singing for its mate year after year – and yet it can so easily be about anyone who feels like they too are just whistling in the woods looking for whatever it is they are hoping for. The flute on this track is simply superb.
Finally, we get to I Just Don’t Care (Bonus Track) - quite bouncy compared to the rest of the album! A fun little song about not worrying about what’s happening in the wider music world, not poring over charts and festival listings and it makes for a fabulous encore on the album!
Growing Old (Songs From My Front Porch), the new album from John Jenkins is available on all major platforms from 15 May