Kevin Jenkins’ new album “Til The Story's Told” opens with a stirring, soulful rendition of Norman Greenbaum’s 1969 classic ‘Spirit in the Sky’. It may sound like an odd choice until you read the press for the album. Jenkins’ sophomore follow-up to his debut CD 'Step Inside' was conceived and written at a time surrounding the loss of his father, his new happy marriage, and the birth of a grandchild. Now, strangely, the song takes on a very personal meaning and sets the tone for this very pleasing record. It is evident from the outset that Jenkins is not a novice to the music business. Even if you are not familiar with his name, chances are you have been touched by his artistry at some time in the past. You see, Jenkins has been a professional bass player and in-demand session player for almost 40 years. He has contributed bass licks on albums from Cyndi Lauper, Graham Parker, Tom Rush and Taylor Dane to name just a few and he has shared the stage with the likes of BB King, Eric Clapton, The Police, Tina Turner and Michael Jackson. Not a bad resume for anybody.
As I listened to the record, I can’t help but hear the influences of Keb Mo’, Lou Rawls, Robert Cray and even a little Ray Charles to boot. Managers and publicists are quick to try and classify an artist’s sound and stick it in a genre that seems to make sense. Someone has tried to classify “Til The Story’s Told” as having a “Black Americana” sound palate but personally, that sells the record short in many ways. From the breezy melody of ‘Tangled Up’ to the contemporary bluesy ‘Janie’s Silver Lining’ to the upbeat stomp of the title track, Jenkins has created a record that keeps giving the listener track after track of aural excellence.
A skilled recording engineer can create almost every aspect of a recording these days. They can give an artist perfect pitch and cover weaknesses in an artist’s performance. Authenticity is a quality that cannot be faked in the studio and Jenkins delivers it in spades on this record. The emotion almost jumps from the tracks. I’ll be honest; I hear a lot of music and very seldom does a complete album pass my desk that I would gladly purchase. Jenkins’ “Til The Story’s Told” is one such record and I for one can’t wait until its official release. The line starts behind me.
Uncle Duke; a.k.a. Rob Penland is the producer and host of "The Mad Music Asylum" a 4 hour weekly syndicated radio show and now a 24 hour streaming internet station.