Thought the bewildering popularity of sea shanties was set to be the most confusing musical development of 2021? Well, hold your horses: Tom Jones has handed his beer to the seafaring community and entered the fray.
Having forged a career as Wales' favourite son and premier crooner, Jones' newest single, a spoken-word cover of US singer-songwriter Todd Snider's Talking Reality Television Blues, takes an unexpected, if welcome, side-step into the world of alternative rock.
Lyrically, it runs through the snowballing damage television has inflicted on the collective modern psyche – a bold move considering Jones is himself a reality TV star thanks to his judging role on the UK's version of talent competition The Voice – ending with the not-at-all-pointed: 'Then a show called The Apprentice came on and pretty soon/An old man with a comb-over had sold us the moon/We stayed tuned in, now here we are/Reality killed by a reality star'.
Popular musicians turning to alternative sounds in a bid to appear hip to the beat is nothing new. When hair metal was all but wiped out by a tsunami of knitted cardigans and dirgy guitars, a number of those bands tried their hand at a mid-90s grunge album in an attempt to cling on to relevancy (yes, Def Leppard, we're looking at you). But where many of them missed the mark, for Sir Tom it seems an unnervingly natural fit. Could this be the start of a glittering alt-rock career? Well, it's 2021. Anything could happen.
Check out Talking Reality Television Blues below.
Talking Reality Television Blues is taken from Jones' upcoming covers album, Surrounded By Time, which is due on April 23. The full tracklisting is below.
Surrounded By Time tracklisting
1. I Won’t Crumble With You If You Fall (Bernice Johnson Reagon)
2. The Windmills Of Your Mind (Michel Legrand/Alan & Marilyn Bergman)
3. Popstar (Yusuf/Cat Stevens)
4. No Hole In My Head (Malvina Reynolds)
5. Talking Reality Television Blues (Todd Snider)
6. I Won’t Lie (Michael Kiwanuka & Paul Butler)
7. This Is The Sea (Michael Scott)
8. One More Cup Of Coffee (Bob Dylan)
9. Samson And Delilah (Tom Jones, Ethan Johns, Mark Woodward)
10. Mother Earth (Tony Jo White)
11. I’m Growing Old (Bobby Cole)
12. Lazarus Man (Terry Callier)