Tom Jones | 24 Hours

S-Curve (2008)
By JEFF TAMARKIN  |  December 2, 2008
3.0 3.0 Stars

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At 68, Tom Jones has decided it's about time he became a songwriter. During his entire career, he's written only a handful of tunes, but the bulk of the tracks on the Welsh Wonder's first US release in some 15 years are penned with British drum 'n' bass producers Future Cut. The others include covers of Springsteen (Devils & Dust's "The Hitter"), Tommy James and the Shondells (opening scorcher "I'm Alive"), and Bono/Edge ("Sugar Daddy," the only true clunker, an uneasy chest pounder that finds Jones attempting to revive his strutting '70s hunkster persona but coming off the dirty uncle instead).

So what is it that he needed to say after all this time? For the most part, not much, though he does offer, in "The Road," a sheepish half-apology to his wife for screwing around on her countless times ("I know I caused you pain/Left you shattered on the ground/But what matters is here and now").

In their production Future Cut largely eschew — with the exception of the chilling death-row title track, the dance-floor-ready "In Style and Rhythm," and a couple of others — the postmodernism of 1999's import-only Reload in favor of a return to what Jones does best: Stax-inspired soul-rock showpieces, brassy ballads, and an emphasis on the massive voice itself, which hasn't dissipated a scintilla since 1964.

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