Single Review: John Jenkins – Sweet Delphine - James Hodder - The Musical Outcast published on 22nd July 2015


Last April I reviewed an EP from Liverpool based songwriter John Jenkins. That EP took me further out of my musical comfort zone than anything else I’ve ever reviewed. The record in question was called Travelogue and it was an instrumental jazz EP, and while I enjoyed the challenge I did feel a little like a fish out of water.

Thankfully (From a slightly selfish point of view at least) Jenkins has moved onto rather more straightforward things for this release, Sweet Delphine. The two projects could not be more different.

A long sweeping intro slides you ever so gently into the track, with the melody being dictated first by a violin before it switches back and forth with an accordion. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I heard an accordion on a song and its presence here gives the track such a different dynamic from most things you’ll hear today.

A light drumbeat slowly rolls along in the background like waves on a beach, as everything strips back for the opening verse. The vocal from Jenkins has a wonderfully warm and familiar feel to it, something like your favourite winter coat.

Lyrically the song tells the story of a sailor who has fallen for a lady named Delphine leading him to contemplate turning his back on everything to which he has been faithful, his Captain and the sea. Just as the song is winding towards a conclusion and just as you think our sailor is going to get the girl, the Captain nips in at the death and waltzes off into the sunset to marry ‘my sweet Delphine.’

Although the song doesn’t sound like a Johnny Cash track on the face of it, that kind of song writing was a staple for the country legend. The whole ‘story with a twist’ idea is so simple but it’s an idea that works so brilliantly well.

Sweet Delphine feels like a throwback to a simpler time, a time without gimmicks, where quality song writing and sweeping instrumentals were king.

I’m huge fan of songs which tell stories, plus that accordion puts a great, slightly different spin on a classic formula, so Sweet Delphine is definitely a winner for me.

Sweet Delphine is out now and available in all of the usual places

John Jenkins, Sweet Delphine. Single Review.

Published on May 30, 2015 by in Music

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

No matter how lonely you feel in life, cut off from the day to day and the sensation of being a wreck in your harbour, it arguably cannot compare to the feeling of thoughtful resentment felt by the knights of the sea, the sailors and their muses that keep them sane when the ocean tries to break their spirits. It is a feeling that is perfectly captured by John Jenkins and his debut single, Sweet Delphine.

The song of the sea, the maritime long excursion and the reality of finding someone only to witness them being stolen from you is an age old one, one that goes back even further than the isolation keenly sought by Homer’s Iliad and the crushing realisation that you don’t have to be at sea in which to feel adrift when the person you love goes off with the ego you have sat at the table and broken bread with.

It is that feeling of sorrow, of anguish and of initial hope that is swelled by the sheer seascape that John Jenkins conveys through each deliciously unencumbered line and guided by a characteristic set of admired musicians. Accompanied by Jon Lawton on guitar, bass and drum, the mournful beauty of Amy Chalmers’ violin and the sensational Helen Maher on accordion, John Jenkins really pushes the boat out with this debut single and it only raises the bar for his album due out soon.

If ever a song felt like a painting, a singular one off prized beauty found to have been put on canvas by Turner, then Sweet Delphine is that track, it is the temptation of hearing a Siren in the darkness but instead of being lured to dangerous waters and impending doom, the musician takes over and offers a compass in which to be guided by. Sweet Delphine is that instrument in which to take hold of and not let go of for dear life.

The tale of a man lost at sea and on dry land, Sweet Delphine is magical and brutal, a merging of souls and an utter delight.

  • Ian D. Hall