John Jenkins - Trains Review - Stereo Stickman Oct 24th 2016


John Jenkins

The smoothness and warmth of this album will calm you down almost instantly. The opening and title track from John Jenkins’ new album Trains is enough to seal the deal and keep you listening until the whole project comes to a close, and then, most probably, once or twice more.

This initial track offers up a conceptual train ambiance at first, which works well; sets the scene, settles you down for what will follow. Then the music eases it’s way in, and that smoothness as mentioned is the first thing you’ll notice. There’s a feeling of acoustic bliss whisked in among a slightly jazz-like musicality, all of which gives off a beautiful sense of time passing very slowly – it makes you feel OK with it all, whatever it is. The peacefulness of the song is just beautiful, and the relevance it holds in terms of the theme and the context is very powerful – it’s wonderful song writing.

To say that one song isn’t enough is something of an understatement. The songwriter has put something massively unique into this album, and as you move from track one into track two – The Paris Wife – this unique touch really takes shape.

John Jenkins is an incredibly skilled storyteller. The songs tell the stories in more ways than simply letting the lyrics do the work. The Paris Wife makes you feel like you’re in Paris, just as Trains makes you feel like you’re watching trains go by. It’s a beautiful example of scene setting and music as a true escape from reality. What’s more, with this second song, you really get to hear the personality in John Jenkins’ voice; you can pick up on those little inflections, the sound of someone being them-self in their performance, even a slight touch of Northern England (a home-like warmth) in the expression. The album takes hold of you quite quickly, and it’s more than worth sticking around for the full experience.


Songwriting is more than just lyrics and melody – part of what’s been captured in this collection is the artist’s ability to create an image of the music; to build a soundscape that reflects the ideas and the theme flawlessly, and this includes the specific choice of instrumentation in each case – the use of piano in Summer Of 76, for example. Introducing a ballad at this early point in the album shows yet another side to the creative mind, as well as adding a very personal touch to the whole release. The song is stylistically unique from it’s predecessors, but it’s a welcome variation, and in terms of the writing style and the storytelling, as mentioned, John Jenkins still has a sound that is his, and that’s a great thing to have mastered.

Some of the songs on the album sound like they could easily be classic hits from a simpler time. It’s Raining in particular, the joyful rhythm, the harmonies; the sound of the sixties comes through, and yet as always it’s a stunning new song to take into your life; the style is inspired, and the song is beautifully hopeful and comforting. Things then break down a little for Looking For That Sign – the music falls away, the artist steps forward with just an acoustic guitar, softly finger picked, and a few subtle additions to really build on that ambiance. If ever an album has the power to make everything seem OK, even the sad things, this is the perfect example. There’s a slightly melancholy story to Looking For That Sign, but it still sounds so optimistic. Fantastic writing.

Then you get a song called Put The World To Right, which, for most listeners, has a title that conjures up ideas and images before you even press play. When you do press play though, any preconceptions fall away – the songwriting makes it’s mark yet again – the story is personal, but told in a way that really reaches out to you (a similar feeling emerges again later for the song Her Soldier Boy). The honesty is so pure in this case, accompanied by the piano, and the sound of children in the background, it sends you back in time a little, potentially drawing a tear to the eye of even the sternest faces. That hope is there again, but the piano playing and the strings add a slightly haunting backdrop, perhaps as if to say – we talked about these things, but we haven’t done them just yet. These are the sort of ideas that shine so brightly with every moment that passes in the warmth of the album Trains. 

Adding to the variation, Sweet Delphine brings forth a country rock-like sound; a thick and mellow beat, the familiar accordion from earlier, a touch of strings – the atmosphere built up by this creativity is not often heard on a project written by a solo artist. The story in this particular case is fantastic as well. The music here is a tool for the artist to build this new world up right in front of you, and it’s incredible to witness such an effective and artistic use of sound. Often times the structure of each song is impossible to predict. Someday We’ll See Better Days is no exception, and yet, regardless of how unpredictable the build is, it’s practically impossible not to hang on every word and every note – as if you know it will take you somewhere good, again, brilliantly in keeping with the theme of the song. You trust the writing and you trust the voice of the singer, and that’s what will compel audiences to pay attention again and again.

These stories are the sort that make you not want to miss a single word. There are lessons to be learnt in the songs, and what makes it so comforting is that you can listen and feel as if someone is taking care of things for you, just for a little while. It’s unnerving when that goes away, but, fortunately, you can then play the whole thing over and be at peace once again.

It’s impossible to pick a favourite, really. Hear the whole thing in full – you won’t stumble upon a single moment of disappointment. This type of songwriting and musical expression is rare. The album Trains is available to be downloaded via his Website. Find and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Soundcloud.


John Jenkins - Trains (2016) - Review & Feature liverpooletc Sept 22nd 2016

John Jenkins - Trains (2016) - Review Liverpool Sound and Vision - Sept 21st 2016



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Liverpool singer/songwriter John Jenkins has a story to tell. He’s got a bit of history, too, and is about to release his debut solo album, ‘Trains’. The quietly spoken Scouser has built up quite a following online and it’s the Internet and social media that have brought the ex-Persuaders and Come in Tokio man to the fore again. By Alan O’Hare.

The Internet has a lot to answer for. Especially to the music business. At the very top of the tree, it’s changed the game. For the rest? It’s been a killer. One of the rare treats it’s brought, though, is the opportunity it offers any artist to get their music heard.

John Jenkins has done it both ways. The Scouser, now living over the water, was a driving force in Liverpool eighties’ heroes Come in Tokio and The Persuaders. Both bands released records, toured and played Peel sessions… in old money, they did it properly. Neither managed to stick together and Jenkins’ talent disappeared into the real world, however.

But he never stopped writing. And now, some two decades later, this modest and unassuming singer has released his debut solo album and is contending all over again. Sure, there’s been radio play, online coverage and gigs galore, but something tangible – with Jenkins’ name front and centre – is out in the world. And it might just break your heart.

Jenkins’ music hovers rather than soars and ‘Trains’ is a record that will reveal itself to you slowly, twelve stations down the line. The songs have a way of soaking into your skin and send you back for repeated listening… the sign of all great music. The record flows, too, and its minor key laments and happy hooks provide the light and shade all good albums require to attract attention. The title track is as mournful as a train pulling away from the station around the corner from your first love, ‘The Paris Wife’ ebbs and flows like a long-lost outtake from The Decemberists and ‘Someday We’ll See Better Days’ attempts to update ‘Let It Be’ for the digital natives and very nearly pulls it off. Nearly.

It’s not all delicate deliveries and blue notes, though. ‘It’s Raining’ sounds like Bert Berns producing Sam Cooke, while the bright and breezy ‘That Girl Is Going To Make You Cry’ would have been a radio hit in any of the decades that preceded this Millennium. Is ‘Trains’ a record out of time, then? Perhaps… but if it is, it’s not the fault of the music on offer. Trends, algorithms and hashtags may consume the life out of us today, but very good songs, played by great musicians, are still the only currency that counts when we get down to the nitty gritty.

The nitty gritty of Jenkins’ songs is love, loss and longing presented on a bed of gentle guitars, violin lines, dancing accordions and proper harmonies. All aboard…

John Jenkins, ‘Trains’, out now

Liverpool Sound and Vision

John Jenkins, Trains. Album Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

In the world of art, in whatever shape or form it should take, the brave, the courageous and those that dare stare into the face of the oncoming light are always those that should be highly prized. For some, just playing a guitar, penning an verse or putting a half made bed together and throwing a little bit of rubbish into the sleeping arena is enough to constitute a day well spent, that is fine, each to their own but it is like comparing The Orient Express to the coach pulled monstrosities that inhabit the tracks of Britain today, anything can be a train but it takes class and passion to be in a special group of Trains.

For John Jenkins the summer has been productive, a barrage of singles has wetted the listener’s appetite and the deep rumble on the tracks is more than corporeal, more than earthly, for in those songs is a passionate man who has opened up his soul, the windows on each carriage is alight, blazing out and blurring the shadows; passion is the key word in a set of songs that are personal and enlightening.

There are not many people living today who would have had the joy of getting on one of the truly remarkable machines that used to run the length of the isles, to have enjoyed the sumptuous feeling of rumbling pleasure, yet most can still invoke the age of steam in our minds, the names of the mighty muscular engines that took our grandparents to unknown parts and beyond. In John Jenkin’s latest album, Trains, the feeling of being pulled gently, without an ounce of effort troubling the listener, with the knowledge they are being safely to the musician’s chosen destination is one in which to revel; this muscular might of lyrical strength is enough to invoke memories of a different time but one that is romantic and passionate enough to live in a time when passion usually means lust.

Produced by Jon Lawton and featuring the talents of Amy Chalmers, Helen Maher, Marc Vormawah, Vanessa Murray, Stephanie Kearley, Scott Poley and Denis Parkinson, songs such as The Paris Wife, Sweet Delphine, the bittersweet memories of listening to the music that defined the emergence of the British pop phenomenon in That Girl Is Going To Make You Cry and the beautiful Her Soldier Boy, which is captivating and complete with the exceptional Vanessa Murray by his side; John Jenkins makes the album’s engines purr with delight before devouring up the miles in the listener’s heart.

Trains, the most remarkable feature of the nation, John Jenkins is the master of them all.

Ian D. Hall