Tom Jones has the dubious honour of being my very first idol. I must have been only 3 or 4 years old at the time when I managed to tell an entire supermarket it was Tom Jones singing on the radio. Since the first blush of infatuation I must confess I did desert him for quite a number of…uhm decades. We had a brief encounter in the late 80s when he appeared in a concert hall near me and I went to see what had been so wonderful about him all those years ago. But the Pontypridd Pelvis had evolved into a kitsch caricature of a hen night lothario whose tight trousers and ruffled shirts were too ridiculous to appeal to the young woman in me . In the end it was Tom’s son (and manager) Mark who told him to stop being embarrassing and start shifting the focus “three feet upwards”. So, here we are, some 40 years and 100 million albums later since our first brief romance. The Welsh Tiger has matured into a Silver Fox and I’m at the cusp of realisation that soon there will be more years behind me than ahead of me. Very befitting then that we meet again over of an album called “Praise and Blame” which is full of contemplation and soul-searching blues. Tom’s version of Bob Dylan’s “What Good Am I” feels like a quiet prayer from a man who has lived and loved, and is now, in his twilight years, examining his life and moral worth. His vocals feel heartfelt and haunting, the production intimate and austere. I feel blessed to have discovered him again.