The thing about solo musicians is that they can play with anyone if they are good enough. Music veteran and bassist Kevin Jenkins has been deeply embedded in the world of music for decades, he has opened for The Police, BB KIng, Michael Jackson and many more. June 9, 2015 marks the release of his sophomore album, Til the Story’s Told and it certainly has some things to say.
The first moments of the album may lift an eyebrow with the chiming of a bell and something sounding like a chorus of gods, but it quickly changes into something recognizable; “Spirit in the Sky.” By the tail-end of the track the chanting returns but is once again replaced, this time by vocals of praise and excitement, more on this moment of rebirth later.
The second track “Tangled Up” makes the listener feel very comfortable with beautiful guitar sounding like it belongs to The Magic Numbers. Half-way into the track the blues guitar takes the solo spotlight and then transitions back into the track as smoothly as possible. Jenkins vocals work to not get in the way of the guitar, but rather ride the coattails for a pleasant experience that does not alienate listeners.
The album named track, “Til the Story’s Told” is an energetic blues church mash-up celebration. The track finds its footing quickly and becomes something difficult to resist. The track is easy to dance and sing along with.
The album comes to a close with ‘“Crazy Weather” which makes good use of echo. Also, once the track finishes, the chorus of gods sneaks its way onto the track before a bell is chimed and the album ends, when the album is listened to on repeat it loops into itself rather nicely, ironically beginning with “Spirit in the Sky.”
On this album Kevin Jenkins takes the role of bassist (as he as for many years) as well as vocals. Across the album he has the help of drummers Mo Roberts and Michael Faulkner, vocalists Heather Powell and Tomas Doncker (guitar too), violinist Alan Grubner, David Barnes on harmonica and Nick Rolf on keyboards.
The legacy of Kevin Jenkins is one slightly hidden. This bass player has been opening for countless legends for many soulful years. His years in music are apparent, as his musical structure takes lessons from the greats. Sometimes a five-minute track can feel like a drag, here Jenkins draws the listener into the melody, then uses chorus and echo comfortably to craft a soothing atmosphere. ‘Tangled Up’ is an ideal example of this as the track allows the guitar to set the pace for a few measures before the vocals take the lead, and with that they carry on not even revealing the alluring back-up singers (which are used sparingly) until almost a minute and a half into the song.
Yes, blues guitar is present in this album but the album itself is much more Alternative Blues as well as Soulful Americana, meaning that fans of soul and blues will probably like what they hear on the album, but not every song. Because Jenkins has so much experience across the spectrum of music he is capable of making a song like “Country Line” take heavy inspiration from country without becoming a country song.
Underground Examinations is a series of Independent Music Reviews with the intention of giving new music a fair and appropriate opportunity to be enjoyed.