We all know Adele- the raspy-sounding London ingénue who sold over 5 million copies of her ‘19’ & ‘21’ albums/CDs in the UK alone – is hot and of the moment, and anyone who has listened to ‘Chasing Pavements’ or ‘Hometown Glory’ knows what an exceptional gifted writer and singer the girl is.
But for my money it is Rumer who is the most interesting female singer at present.
Born Sarah Joyce, in Pakistan and renamed after the author Rumer Godden, she has many admirers – including Jools Holland, Burt Bacharach, Elton John, John Prescott (!) and Obama (who invited her to sing at the White House recently).
Like Adele, she is not your typical pop singer either in appearance or attitude- she loves music of all eras, she is not a ‘natural’ on stage, is acutely self-aware and is pretty much an antidote for the ‘X-Factor’ kind of ‘star’ that is currently produced.
Listen to her –as 500,000 did for her debut album/CD ’Seasons of My Soul- and she comes across as a combination of Eva Cassidy and Karen Carpenter with a unique sound to her voice which is at the same time, smouldering, jazzy and soulful. She writes too, of her life and those around her. ‘Seasons of my soul’ is really referenced by the death of her mother and traces a road of discovery. Stand out tracks are ‘Slow’ (taking a relationship at its own pace), ‘Aretha’ ( a girl being inspired through the soul queen) and ‘On my way home’ (coming home to bury her mother).
Her second album – Boys Don't Cry - has just been released, which is a selection of covers from male artists from the 1970-1978 era, from the likes of Richie Havens, Todd Rundgren, Hall & Oates and Gilbert O’Sullivan. The theme of the songs are men in pain- men drinking, men suffering, men wanting to run away and men just wanting to be loved, which may all echo how Rumer herself is feeling, as she has openly talked about the challenges of adapting to be a singer on the road and in the studio and how relationships are affected.
‘Boys don’t cry’ is though a great listen and wonderful background music to soften your soul. Easily the stand out track is the sublime ‘P F Sloan’ – originally a Jimmy Webb creation- with a colourful history of its own, being about P F Sloan, the American singer song writer responsible for the stunning ‘Eve of Destruction’ (reputed to have helped change the voting age in the US (“You’re old enough to kill but not for voting”), wrote songs for Herman’s Hermits, the Manchester 60’s pop group as well as writing the theme song for the brilliant ‘Danger Man’ spy series.
In a lament to where P F Sloan has gone (he had reputedly spent 30 years fighting various ailments) Rumer’s lush tones will keep yoy humming the song for days on end.
Rumer doesn’t really hit the headlines like an Adele, or a Lady Ga Ga, or even the late Amy Winehouse which is probably a good thing for her, but she is worth listening to, as she has one of the most distinctive and unique sounds around. Go listen.