For all the studly showmanship of his 1960s pop-idol persona, Tom Jones has always been a more than credible singer of vintage R&B and rock. (Check out the DVDs of his 1969-71 variety show, where he went toe-to-toe with the likes of Aretha and Little Richard, and his excellent 2004 album, Tom Jones and Jools Holland.) 24 Hours shows both sides of the Welshman. The first half pushes toward Jones' Vegas side, with echoes of his old near-kitsch pop hits. Even here, though, Jones' charm can shine through, and not just on the tasteful "We Got Love." The macho strut of "Sugar Daddy" verges on the ridiculous, except that the 68-year-old Jones seems to be in on the joke ("The older I get, the better I was").
The second half takes on a more autumnal air, with the music turning toward classic soul. And Jones, acting his age, is up to this mature material, highlighted by a spectacular, Stax-like take on Springsteen's "The Hitter."
- Nick Cristiano Tom Jones 24 Hours (S-Curve ***)