Tom Jones has announced details of his forthcoming album Surrounded By Time, to be released on April 23. It’s previewed today by the striking lead track “Talking Reality Television Blues,” which is accompanied by an equally arresting video.
The track documents the changing role and impact of television in all its formats, from its beginnings to the modern day. It describes how, despite great scepticism about its relevance, the medium first arrived in the lives of the general public. In his spoken word narrative, without singing, the Welsh superstar talks about how TV plotted key moments in culture and history, from the arrival of early star Milton Berle to images of man in the moon.
“Talking Reality Television Blues” is written by American singer-songwriter Todd Snider, whose own version is on his 2019 album Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3. Accompanied by atmospheric guitar and brooding, dark textures, the hard-hitting lyric moves through the ages via the MTV era towards the arrival of The Apprentice, when “…pretty soon, an old man with a combover had sold us the moon.” It goes on to conclude that “now here we are…reality killed by a reality star.”
Reflects Sir Tom on the subject matter of this unique addition to his catalog: ”I was there when TV started – didn’t know I’d become a part of it – but it could be that its power is to remind us how wonderful, crazy and inventive we are, but also how scary the reality it reflects can be.”
Surrounded By Time, Jones’ first album since 2015’s Long Lost Suitcase, is co-produced by Ethan Johns and Mark Woodward. It continues the great singer’s working relationship with the ever in-demand Johns, who also produced that album and its predecessors Spirit In The Room (2012) and Praise & Blame (2010). The new set shows Jones, now 80, still at the peak of not only his storied vocal talents, but with his insatiable curiosity for musical invention fully intact.
Surrounded By Time is released on April 23, and can be pre-ordered here.
The full Surrounded By Time tracklist is:
“I Won’t Crumble With You If You Fall” (Bernice Johnson Reagon)
“The Windmills Of Your Mind” (Michel Legrand/Alan & Marilyn Bergman)
“Popstar” (Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam)
“No Hole In My Head” (Malvina Reynolds)
“Talking Reality Television Blues” (Todd Snider)
“I Won’t Lie” (Michael Kiwanuka & Paul Butler)
“This is the Sea” (Michael Scott)
“One More Cup Of Coffee” (Bob Dylan)
“Samson And Delilah” (Tom Jones, Ethan Johns, Mark Woodward)
“Mother Earth” (Tony Joe White)
“I’m Growing Old” (Bobby Cole)
”Lazarus Man” (Terry Callier)