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  • Writer's picturePaul Gainey

Tom Jenkins supporting Cardinal Black at The Trinity Centre, Bristol

Welsh singer/ songwriter and hill farmer Tom Jenkins supported Cardinal Black at the Trinity Centre, Bristol, and warmed up the packed house with a blend of indie rock fused with country.

Touring his most recent album, ‘It Comes in the Morning, It Hangs in the Evening Sky’ released in 2022, Tom chose a range of songs from his back catalogue, which includes two albums and 5 EPs.

Tom hails from the high country of the South Wales Valleys, surrounded by the ex-coal mining communities and rugged landscape where he farms. After a few years on the road and feeling uninspired by his own music, Jenkins would eventually end up in the outback of New Zealand, to pursue his passion of sheep shearing, shepherding and ranching.

Running with Māori sheep shearing gangs through the back country wool sheds would leave him motivated by his music obsessed colleagues, occasionally encouraging him to pick up the guitar to play to the gang after a gruelling days work.

After the shearing season Tom would return to shepherding, ranching and farm work in the vast country of Central Otago, on New Zealand’s South Island. Cut off from the world, sometimes weeks at a time with only a landline that would receive calls, the isolation and beautiful landscape that surrounded Jenkins would provide the right time and place to write his debut solo album.

In Bristol, in front of a packed crowd at the Trinity Centre, with his new band he performed an equal split of material from “Misery in Comfort” released in 2018, including the title track, “Underlying Pain” and “Tom Jones”, about a dream that Jenkins had about a karaoke with the man himself, shared with tracks from the latest album, “It Hangs in the Evening Sky”, including “Be There For You,” “Back Roads” and interspersed with “When the Coal Dust Settled” from the EP of the same name in 2020.

Despite his soft spoken and jolly demeanour on stage, Tom’s songs are mostly melancholy in nature yet they tell stories of his life and that of his past and his heritage.

In “Be There For You”, Tom took us on a journey to his past where he had spent 10 years as a contract sheep shearer taking him to distant lands.

“When the Coal Dust Settled” tells a story of his heritage and his grandfathers who were coal miners and sheep farmers. His songs capture moments in time and are personal reflections of himself.

His guitar playing skills and tremendous voice were enough to captivate the whole crowd, who burst into applause at the end of each song, given extra depth by his new, and quickly recruited band.

The final song “Back Roads” saw the audience raise the roof of the old church, as the power of his lyrics shone through, and by the time he ends, the belief that a great song can be delivered in any way is proven again. Tom Jenkins has them in abundance.

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