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'If You Can’t Forgive You Can’t Love'   

-  Label: 'Fretsore Records'
-  Genre: 'Alt/Country' -  Release Date: '6th August 2021'

Our Rating:
This Liverpudlian singer-songwriter’s new album draws upon influences ranging from The Beatles to Townes Van Zandt; there’s a cover of the latter’s Kathleen to prove the point.

Jenkins has been around for a good while but dropped off the scene before returning to the fray in 2015. He says: “Writing songs is the thing I love to do most in this world, and I’ll never stop.”

The laid back vocal style is short on dramatics but solid and reassuring. His song writing is rooted in old school narrative tradition centred around a strong melody.

Jenkins is never likely to trouble the mainstream or win over many new fans but I doubt that this concerns him too much. Like all his records, this is a labour of love rather than an attempt to break new ground.

As with any good Americana-themed album, travel is a recurring motif. The thirteen tunes are summarized as “a lyrical soundtrack to an insouciant road trip.”   

In this regard, the journey is more important than the destination.He explores emotional detours with reflections on mortality and solitude without ever getting too downbeat or maudlin; he sings of aiming to get beyond The Wrong Side of Sadness.

Strangers on a Train is the centrepiece. On this, Jenkins duets with Alison Benson for a poignant song told from the perspective of a man and woman travelling together who notice each other but most probably will never meet.

In The End of Summer Jenkins tackles the fading of the light with a detachment bordering on banality: “I don’t want to live forever but it would be nice to have more time.”.

The resolve to sidestep potentially disturbing thoughts means that the tunes on this album end up being perfectly amiable without really seeking to offer anything more profound. The affirmation that used as the album title is a fair summation of the singer’s pragmatic life philosophy.

John Jenkins’ website
  author: Martin Raybould

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JENKINS, JOHN - If You Can’t Forgive You Can’t Love