Liverpool born singer/songwriter John Jenkins has become a bit of a regular fixture on these pages under his various artistic guises and he’s back with a new project. Under the banner of John Jenkins and That Sure Thing the album finds Jenkins as chief songwriter while teaming up with a host of critically acclaimed guest vocalists. The result is Honeymoon Hangover and here’s the lowdown.
I must confess that I’m not that big on opening track Another Time Another Place feat Thom Morecroft. I like the vocals on the intro and the way the song builds from there but I’m not really of the fan of the sax at the start. I feel like it dates the track quite heavily. Other than that there’s nothing outwardly wrong with the song, the vocal is perfectly fine but it’s just not a song that I really clicked with.
However, things soon pick up and they pick up in a hurry. Louisiana Is Calling feat Paul Richard Dunbar is everything that the title suggests and everything that I hoped that it would be. It’s a song enthused with the Blues and the American South with a little bit of Gospel thrown in for good measure. I love the piano, the rough and edgy vocal gives the song bucket loads of character and it’s probably one of my favourites on the record.
By contrast Cat And Mouse feat Chris Howard is smooth as silk and couldn’t sound more different to what went before it. This record is a serious blend of styles, something which is clear for all to see even after only three tracks. The vocal fits the song perfectly and the guitar work adds another dimension to proceedings without taking over. It Tears Me Apart feat Tricia McTeague sees the pace drop to a comparative crawl. The laid back and smooth instrumental gives the song quite an old school, soul ballad kind of feel with the vocal more than holding up its end. The track gains a skip in its step late on but for the most part it’s the fantastic vocal which does the heavy lifting.
Get Her Out Of My Mind feat Chris Howard has got this great kind of swing to it. (I don’t know what else to call it!) It’s got a great bounce with a steady drumbeat and skipping instrumental forming a brilliant groove for the vocal to dance all over. The female backing vocals on the catchy chorus work really well and the song as a whole is another really good offering.
I won’t Let You Down feat Robert Vincent isn’t really the kind of song which does a lot for me if I’m being brutally honest. That’s not a reflection on any of the performers involved but this kind of really emotionally heavy style of ballad isn’t my thing. It’s just personal preference. That being said, the vocal is spot on, the piano and the strings help layer on the emotion and the occasional strains of an organ in the background work nicely. If this style of emotional ballad is your thing I’d imagine that this track is bang on the money!
The ‘easy listening’ vibe returns for One Fine Day feat Chris Howard. There’s not a great deal to say about this one other than it’s just a really solid, nicely put together song. Things kick up a gear with the arrival of Sad And Lonely feat Steve Thompson. I thought the song had got quite a Fleetwood Mac/soft rock style feel to it. The instrumentation is light and positively skips along while the guitar solo in the final third helps round things out really well.
And When The Lights Are Low featuring the duel vocals of Chis Howard and Tricia McTeague is another of my favourite tracks. The vocals blend together incredibly well, I love the chemistry and the light Blues and Jazz blood that runs through the songs veins gives it great replay value. This is definitely another one of the stand-out moments. The quick pace continues with penultimate track Heart And Soul feat Chris Howard. It’s another enjoyable effort, while parts of the piano melody are incredibly familiar but I have no idea where from. (Sorry, on that one!) Love, love, love the bass in this track as well, just thought I’d throw that in there…
The album’s closer Same Thing Every Night again feat Chris Howard is a serious curve-ball as the record takes a final detour to Nashville. I’m a big Country and Western fan, something that my Dad takes great credit for, so this track is right up my street. If you think back to all of those classic country songs from the 60’s then you’ll know exactly what this song is all about. The track caught me completely by surprise and put a smile on my face at the same time so as far as closing tracks go it gets a big thumbs up from me.
Honeymoon Hangover is an incredible blend of styles and influences with every song bringing something different to the table. There are a couple of tracks I’m not massive on and a couple in the middle third could have maybe been slimmed down a little bit but the positives far outweigh those negatives. Louisiana Is Calling, And When The Lights Are Low and Same Thing Every Night in particular are fantastic songs.
The album is quite old fashioned in a way, and I don’t mean that disparagingly. By that I mean that it focusses purely on the songs without any of the unnecessary frills which seem to be en-vogue at the minute. If you’re a fan of quality song writing and great old-fashioned well put together songs I’d say that Honeymoon Hangover is definitely worth a listen. There’s something for everyone on this record, with such a wide range of styles on display everyone will like something. A delicious musical melting pot if ever I’ve heard one.