Sunday, March 07, 2010

Jamie Cullum - The Pursuit - album review

Jamie Cullum – The Pursuit

Jamie Cullum is smart. He's an exceptionally talented jazz vocalist and pianist but he knows that jazz doesn't sell big these days, pop does. But he also doesn't want to sell out. Sure he has to write tunes that will please the masses but to satisfy his own musical needs he can throw in an adapted Monk lick over Cole Porter's “Just One of Those Things” or deconstruct the Harry Secombe/Tony Bennett classic, “If I Ruled The World”.

But let's cut to the chase, The Pursuit has converted me. There is something to Cullum. I wish he was a bit more jazz and a bit less pop but I realise that the bank manager says he has to be. Instead he can take the best of pop and make it jazz. Here Cullum reimagines songs from Not While I’m Around, that sentimental ballad from Sweeney Todd, to Rihanna's pop favourite “Don't Stop The Music”. This is the the highlight of the album, he manages to retain the infectious hook of the chorus yet stripping down the song to the bare essentials, simple chords and brushed snare drums, until the verse builds to the familiar chorus. Cullum breaks off for some exceptional piano fills before returning to where he started.

The album features a variety of beats, production techniques and styles. He is clearly branching his wings and for the most part it works. He is clearly a talent and this is his most experimental album to date. It will be very interesting to see the direction he takes from here, but for now lets sit back and enjoy the music.

Rating: 4/5

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