TOM JENKINS – Meadow Parts 1 & 2 (Xtra Mile Recording)

Meadow Parts 1 & 2Tom Jenkins’ Meadow Parts 1 & 2 sing with the honest melodies of Tom’s own sheep farming experience, stone barn walls, a cold west Wales morning, an old oak tree graced with family ashes, and, of course, the warm loyalty of the family Border collie.

Now, to clarify, there are two releases here: The first, Meadow Part 1, (released last year) is a five-song twelve-minute rural folk cycle that evokes the Welsh countryside. The first song, ‘Meadow’, has the timeless beauty of a great Simon and Garfunkel harmonious tune. Quite frankly, Van Morrison’s Summertime In England album should have sounded like this. Then, ‘Goodbye’ spins a nice circular psych joy, adding an electric guitar, backing vocals, and pulsing harmonica.

But, ‘I Don’t Know’ returns to plucked acoustic guitar purity, with the human fingers brushing the frets with home-spun passion. My own northern Wisconsin guy Bon Iver and his honest broken-hearted folk confessions come to mind.

Ditto for the lovely and intensely profound ‘Face In A Cloud’, which floats with any meadow’s late autumnal afternoon thoughtful speculation on the varieties of life, death, and just about everything else, with the poetic lyric, “Like a face in a cloud, of a dead man that I knew before”. You know, sheep just watch the world and then kindly grow woolly fleece – just like a wonderous guitarist, perhaps thinking of the great Bert Jansch, spins a lovely gossamer dreamed acoustic solo. This music does just that: It kindly watches the world and then spins the raw fleece into finely woven folk songs.

And, ‘Drovers’, with simple guitar and voice, touches old wisdom, like any aged melodic waterwheel.

My friend, Kilda Defnut, said, “These songs hover over the sacred crossroads in any Thomas Hardy novel.

Meadow Parts 1 & 2As always, thank you, Kilda, but thankfully, as (the great!) Procol Harum once sang, “Still there will be more”, as our sheep farming Tom has now followed with the nineteen-minute Meadows Part 2. Oh my – ‘Letters From A Hill’ is pastoral-folk perfection, with the wind-blown pathos of a deeply thoughtful loss. The iconic Donovan, when sipping a less psychedelic cider, might sound like this, with the tune’s agrarian voice, acoustic guitar, and just the right touch of Dylan’s puffed harmonica bite.

And just so you know, Tom is also known for his full band albums. The second song, ‘Blame It’, glances back with a bit more instrumentation, with backing vocals and percussion, but the acoustic guitar still spins with that aged waterwheel purity. But ‘Runaway Now’ ups the amps a bit more with more percussion, electric guitar energy, harmonica, and an urgent vocal.

But, of course, the sheep must be tended. ‘The Cruel Passing Of Time’ returns to an honest melody of sheep farming, stone barn walls, that cold western Wales morning, an old oak tree graced with family ashes, and, of course, the warm loyalty of the family Border collie. It’s a sublime lyric with the confession, “We are lost in the moment, just looking for a sign”, set, in nice juxtaposition, to a warm featherbed melody. Nice.

Then, ‘Back Roads’ pulses like a pretty good Neil Young (sans Crazy Horse) tune. The song cuts the truth of any farmer’s furrow.

The final song, ‘Stay And Work The Land’, is a melodic prayer that understands the stubborn bloodline living in the inherited soil. Indeed, the ageless sheep continue to watch and chew the world, but these two short albums contemplate that very same world and then spin raw thoughtful wool into a wonderful collection of songs that hover, like ghosts, over the always sacred crossroads, that sing an introspective and sometimes haunting, but always quite brilliant, acoustic folk song.

Bill Golembeski

Artist’s website:

‘Blame It’ – official video:

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