Home Album review Album review: Joe Jencks – The Coming of the Years

Album review: Joe Jencks – The Coming of the Years

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Joe Jencks. Photo by Elizabeth Szekeres.

In 2018, Elizabeth Szekeres wrote a very interesting article for Roots Music Canada about a recent release by Chicagoan Joe Jencks that featured the unpublished songs of Si Kahn called The Forgotten.

She began by noting that Roots Music Canada typically showcases Canadian artists but that an exception was being made because, as she wrote, Joe must be “some kind of honorary Canadian since he engaged so many talented Canadians on the new album.”

It was produced by Canadian folk music icon Ken Whiteley and called upon the talents of what seems like a small army of Canadian musicians.

The article is a terrific read and I encourage you to have a look.

Joe Jencks’ more recent work, a 2022 album called The Coming of the Years, evokes his Irish heritage and his deep understanding of the history and culture of the island.

The songs tell of life in Ireland, the hardships endured, but also the love for the land, and the Irish diaspora to North America, all of which will resonate with so many Canadians, a further argument for honorary status.

If you remain unconvinced, I would argue that Joe’s own composition about the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike should
seal the deal.

The writing on this album, on songs both composed by Joe and collected, the powerful evocation of human emotion, both heartbreaking and hopeful, is notable.

The richness of Joe’s voice is striking and the passion of his
delivery commands attention.

As for the song about the Winnipeg General Strike, called “1919 Winnipeg,” Joe writes in the liner notes that he wrote it for the 100th Anniversary of the strike, one of the most consequential labour actions in North American history – a topic of great interest to him as an advocate for social justice issues and worker’s rights.

In September of last year, I went on a guided music tour of the West Coast of Ireland.

Happily, Joe Jencks was one of the tour guides. Each evening, either he or local musicians entertained the group.

During the day we visited churches, castles, museums, towns and countryside and other historic sites. A grand time was had by all.

I mentioned this only because Joe’s knowledge about and passion for Ireland came through in every song he sang and story he told on the trip.

This album captures much of that.

It is a very personal perspective and well worth a listen.

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