Let’s face it. As humans, we love a good success story, particularly when it’s taken that story’s protagonist a substantial chunk of time to reach his or her potential. I’m half using this allegory as a pun, of course, since it certainly applies to blues/Americana/roots artist Kevin Jenkins, whose own “story” is told on a brand new album 38 years in the making.
Cutting his chops everywhere from the Budokan in Japan to the Royal Albert Hall in London, Jenkins has opened for superstars like Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, and Eric Clapton. And at first listen to Til the Story’s Told, it’s not hard to see why artists of that caliber immediately recognized Jenkins’ immense talent. Smartly beginning with a cover of Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky,” Jenkins completely reinvents and updates the radio staple into a contemporary classic with a trance-like chant of “Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, and Krishna” interspersed throughout. Even the song’s harshest critics won’t be able control the toe-tapping and head-bopping to this version. (I should know…)
Moving through a solid collection of nine tracks, Jenkins displays his true musical versatility against obvious songwriting prowess. “Tangled Up” invokes universal emotions of love and loss, while easygoing “Why” hypnotizes the listener into a dreamlike lull, and “Before You Close Your Eyes” and closer “Crazy Weather” infuse some blues into the album. But it’s the record’s first single “Janie’s Silver Lining” and its blues-fueled title track that steal the show and become the glue that makes this whole thing completely work.
It’s easy to bypass an album by an up-and-coming singer/songwriter because of unfamiliarity with the music that artist makes. But Kevin Jenkins’ resume speaks for itself, and his skill level and laundry list of superstars standing on his shoulders are testaments to his incredible talent. Do yourself a favor and take a listen to Jenkins’ “story.” You can thank me later.