Monday, February 20, 2012
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: RUMER - SEASONS OF MY SOUL
Everybody in England is familiar with Rumer, although she hasn't hit the heights that Adele has. This debut Rumer album came out in late 2010, and received massive critical acclaim, including a rare, five-star, "instant classic" review in Mojo Magazine. That's where I first found out about her. So, why haven't we heard her here? My guess is that with Adele dominating things, the plan has been to wait until her furor died down to introduce Rumer. Unfortunately, Adele's machine keeps on plowing ahead, so we're finally get the Rumer album, and I hope it can find a place over here.
First off, she doesn't sound like Adele. Instead, she is more a throwback to classic pop vocalists of the 60's and early 70's. She has the smoothness and poise of Dusty, and (don't take this the wrong way), the gentle romanticism of Karen Carpenter. Okay, I said it. But you know, Carpenter was a darn fine singer, so don't let that scare you off. Rumer is singing emotional pop-soul, and it's absolutely gorgeous.
Her material is almost completely self-written, and shamelessly echoes the glory days of lush, melodic, heart-tugging pop. On Aretha, the singer is a school kid, shy and humiliated by peer pressure, but gets through it by listening to the soul great on her headphones, giving her strength. In Saving Grace, she's the weary 9-to-5 worker, sick of the same conversations and the high fashion parade passing her by in the city, but saved each day by coming home to her lover. In Thankful, she's watching the world outside her window, the kids playing and bickering outdoors, a woman passes on a bicycle, the first frost, all little things in all the seasons, and she's thankful for just being alive. In a nice nod to her roots, the radio is playing Superstar, and I'm betting its not the original Delaney and Bonnie version, or Joe Cocker's, but rather The Carpenters hit.
As I say, there are no apologies here for being a tad unhip, or maybe we've come so far now that this stuff will be hip. I'm going to admit it, I love it, and have always had a soft spot for such supposed wimpy tunes. It's no surprise that Burt Bacharach has already expressed admiration, and worked with her. The final giveaway is the lone cover, and ending track on the album, the old David Gates hit Goodbye Girl. She does a beautiful job of course, and who could ever imagine that song coming back again? Anyway, here's hoping Rumer doesn't get buried by Adele, and here's hoping enough people embrace their hidden pop love. And you know what? I like her a lot better than Adele. Just saying.