Last April I reviewed an EP from Liverpool based songwriter John Jenkins. That EP took me further out of my musical comfort zone than anything else I’ve ever reviewed. The record in question was called Travelogue and it was an instrumental jazz EP, and while I enjoyed the challenge I did feel a little like a fish out of water.
Thankfully (From a slightly selfish point of view at least) Jenkins has moved onto rather more straightforward things for this release, Sweet Delphine. The two projects could not be more different.
A long sweeping intro slides you ever so gently into the track, with the melody being dictated first by a violin before it switches back and forth with an accordion. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I heard an accordion on a song and its presence here gives the track such a different dynamic from most things you’ll hear today.
A light drumbeat slowly rolls along in the background like waves on a beach, as everything strips back for the opening verse. The vocal from Jenkins has a wonderfully warm and familiar feel to it, something like your favourite winter coat.
Lyrically the song tells the story of a sailor who has fallen for a lady named Delphine leading him to contemplate turning his back on everything to which he has been faithful, his Captain and the sea. Just as the song is winding towards a conclusion and just as you think our sailor is going to get the girl, the Captain nips in at the death and waltzes off into the sunset to marry ‘my sweet Delphine.’
Although the song doesn’t sound like a Johnny Cash track on the face of it, that kind of song writing was a staple for the country legend. The whole ‘story with a twist’ idea is so simple but it’s an idea that works so brilliantly well.
Sweet Delphine feels like a throwback to a simpler time, a time without gimmicks, where quality song writing and sweeping instrumentals were king.
I’m huge fan of songs which tell stories, plus that accordion puts a great, slightly different spin on a classic formula, so Sweet Delphine is definitely a winner for me.
Sweet Delphine is out now and available in all of the usual places.