I wasn’t intending to start this review in such a flippant fashion (“Tuebrook” is a record that matters), but on his own notes for the album, John Jenkins hits on something that I always think about.

There’s a song on here called “Idaho,” and Jenkins reasons that “I occasionally let my imagination run with what the place must be like. Idaho, Baltimore, Tennessee have all featured in songs of mine. I can’t get as enthusiastic writing about Grimsby, Cleethorpes, or Clacton as I do over American place names.”

I’m from Solihull, a place just outside Birmingham. If I were a singer, could I play Wembley and say “We’re from Solihull, West Midlands” with the same gusto that an American group can tell you they’re from Los Angeles, California? No, I could not.

Jenkins, though, can say: “I’m from Tuebrook, Merseyside” with no problem at all. The area he grew up in is infused in the DNA of the tracks, whether they are autobiographical or, as he puts it, he is “like any novelist.”

It was fun to listen to this album and work out for yourself where the Jenkins songs end and the “novels” begin because at its heart, the album hinges on these words: “Did you ever imagine you’d live to be 63?”

In the very first song, they speak to the reflective nature of the collection, and also at the wanderlust that some of us feel, a feeling that we might have done something differently.

“All the places I cared about the most are no longer there,” he sings on “Shadows,” and that feels like the genesis of the record.

Another reflective (and you imagine Tuebrook-based tunes) “Christopher Jenkins” begins with Jenkins on a call-in show as a child (the irony that he has a radio show these days isn’t lost).

He has a wonderful warmth about his writing, yet at the same time, his words and his voice betray regrets.

And that voice is in an unmistakable Liverpool accent, as singer-songwriter stuff should be. It should be real, and on “Idaho,” it certainly is. The wonderful harmonies from Pippa Murdie on that one give it real depth.

And we shouldn’t forget the superb playing, as “Passing Time” underlines. It takes the Mansun theory that “all relationships are emptying and temporary” and adds to it.

“43 and Counting” is as dark as this gets, as the character doesn’t get their wish of having a family and feelings of loneliness and betrayal. By contrast, “A Child’s Sense of Wonder” enters a dream, and the music is almost psychedelic, while the way he matter-of-factly writes about pain is all over “She Feels Nothing.”

What this album cleverly does a few times is use audio from the past and infuse the present. “William” does that brilliantly.

A heavy pathos hangs in the air as “Lost In The Storm (A Sadness Far Too Heavy)” enters. Even the Priest is fed up with hearing the confessional here.

A record that feels like it matters ends with what might be an old advert, “Mr. Ford’s Hardware Shop,” and very much it feels like a window on the past.

Indeed, light-hearted introductions to this review notwithstanding, this is another wonderful piece of work. A Martyn Jenkins-like gift for empathy allied to an instinctive understanding of the way the music should be.

But “Tuebrook” is way more. Jenkins has a way of delivering these songs like he’s reading an audiobook (and I’m not just saying this because I’m writing this at 1 am), and it all adds up to an album that is even better than the one I reviewed back in May 2020. Both I and the world are in a different place now, but on “Tuebrook,” John Jenkins has seemingly dug deeper inside himself.

This is the work of one of the UK’s best and most original singer-songwriters.

Rating: 9.5/10

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