Jamie Cullum
The Pursuit


3.5
great

Review

by AtavanHalen USER (181 Reviews)
April 6th, 2010 | 27 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Polite, pretentious Brit shifts from "adult contemporary" into being a contemporary adult.

As much as he tries to differentiate with each release, poor Jamie Cullum almost always ends up returning to being a middle-of-the-road Michael Buble-esque crooner and Mother's Day favourite - like a stray dog to its conservative, middle-aged master. His last two releases, 2003's breakthrough Twentysomething and 2005's quietly-recieved Catching Tales, saw him take the helm with charming, catchy original material; only to steer off-course with vanilla jazz standards. After a few years away from it all, he's given the whole music thing another red-hot go on his fifth album, The Pursuit. Even with a handful of covers in his pocket, you can easily see the record as his most ambitious and interesting work to date. Its moments of surprise will lure in even those that couldn't stand him previously, and even the covers on offer are far more lively than before. It's an album that's eager to impress, and is able to do so stylishly and impressively.

At the forefront of the music, as always, is Cullum's raspy crooning vocals and his somewhat unpredictable, flourishing piano skills. His charming persona has been enough to keep his last few studio outings afloat, but has occasionally struggled to deliver beyond this - especially in terms of his songs' arrangements. Interestingly enough, it's the songs on The Pursuit that sound as if they could have appeared on previous albums that are the low points of the album. A mild, slow-motion take on "If I Ruled The World" (made famous by Harry Secombe) is almost instantly skippable; essentially Cullum on crooning autopilot. Meanwhile, "I Think, I Love" - presumably a ballad for his wife, Sophie Dahl - is almost a drunken lullaby, with Cullen slurring his words and barely being able to put the rudimentary chords of the song together. It's a nice enough idea, but it's so alarmingly dull that you'd think he would perhaps try a little harder for next time.

For the most part, however, it's mostly a far more animated experience for all musicians involved. The silky-smooth jazz brushes and creaking double bass that formed Cullum's rhythm section for most of his career here only make cameos as opposed to the lead roles they previously held. "You and Me are Gone" kicks almost instantaneously into a ferocious swing that's lead by a vintage piano boogie and swift drum fills and crashes; a lively, sassy affair that is destined for body moving rather than finger clicking. Cullum's take on Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things" (complete with his own cheeky prologue) might start off sleepily, but the second the big band creeps into the mix and quite literally trumpets out of your speakers it becomes all the proof you need of the fact that Jamie sounds genuinely sounds ecstatic about playing music for the first time in years.

This sentiment flows into Cullum's original material, here taking up a larger share of the record than ever before and subsequently delivering some of the highlights of his career thus far. Lead single "I'm All Over It" is a sweet piano-pop shuffle that toys with major/minor variations and brings out the big guns for a delightfully bombastic chorus. Its successor, "Wheels", brings the energy back a little with its gentle train-tracks snare and simple piano notes melody. Still, it impacts just as soundly with its tender, emotional delivery and a near-perfect arrangement that thrives on dynamics. Throw in an ode to cassette compilations (the adorable "Mixtape"), a hip-hop influenced funk number ("We Run Things") and an extravagant seven-minute dance track (the closing "Music Is Through"), and you've got a collection of music documenting Cullum's rise from outside the square and into a realm of his own identity.

In a way, The Pursuit is a strangely fitting title for this collection of songs. Jamie Cullum has been pursuing a sound that breaks the mold he created for himself over the course of his discography to this point. Although it hasn't entirely been achieved, he's come extremely close - his best album by a long shot, this is substantial enough to secure enough momentum to continue in this positive direction. Stay tuned for The Achievement.




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user ratings (21)
3.5
great
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Jamie Cullums new album "The Pursuit" is a disappointment to jazz fans and a delight to pop fans....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Douglas
April 7th 2010


9297 Comments


I like this bloke, his 2005 effort was pretty average though.



AtavanHalen
April 7th 2010


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This one's a lot better. Check out Wheels and I'm All Over It, I'm sure they're both up on YouTube.



He's here in a few weeks, too, although I think all of his shows have sold out.

klap
Staff Reviewer
April 7th 2010


12308 Comments


just got this from my work

Digging: Jessie Ware - What's Your Pleasure?

AtavanHalen
April 7th 2010


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You work at a record label, yeah?



Massive congrats on the promotion btw.

klap
Staff Reviewer
April 7th 2010


12308 Comments


publishing company now but yeah, really enjoyed his old stuff

and thanks!

AtavanHalen
April 7th 2010


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

If you liked his old stuff, you'll love this.



Pleasure, mate, very well deserved. Though your song Baby DOES sound exactly like my song Baby Baby.

klap
Staff Reviewer
April 7th 2010


12308 Comments


i will take a dump in your fish tank bro

AtavanHalen
April 7th 2010


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hahaha.



Did I tell you about the time I met Aziz Ansari?

klap
Staff Reviewer
April 7th 2010


12308 Comments


no and you're going to make me insanely jealous

AtavanHalen
April 7th 2010


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hahaha. So surreal. I was in a club where Major Lazer Soundsystem was DJing and Amanda Blank was there and I was there with Mica Levi (Micachu) and Aziz had just done a gig at the Comedy Story in Sydney. So I got his autograph:



"It is so loud in here! Thanks for watching my stuff!



(signature)"



Amazing.

klap
Staff Reviewer
April 7th 2010


12308 Comments


damn he's like top 5 most desired gigs for me right now

AtavanHalen
April 7th 2010


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

For sure. He'll hopefully be in Australia again by the end of the year, so here's hoping.

DaveyBoy
Emeritus
April 7th 2010


22494 Comments


"Aziz Ansari" I remember the day he took a hat-trick for India.

Hey DavID, you're approaching another milestone review. You got something special for us? Go on, do something special, or else you'll break my heart, my achy breaky heart.


Douglas
April 7th 2010


9297 Comments


Cool I will check it out, Twentysomething was pretty swell.

porch
April 7th 2010


8460 Comments


I'd rather stab myself in the scrotum than willingly listen to one of this guys records. Horrible stuff

Enotron
April 7th 2010


7695 Comments


He's pretty impressive for somebody with downs syndrome.

AtavanHalen
April 7th 2010


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hey DavID, you're approaching another milestone review.




You think 150 is a milestone? Hmm.



Cool I will check it out, Twentysomething was pretty swell.




Yeah man, it's very much worth checking out.



Porchular and Enotron may stay in the corner, collecting dust.

DaveyBoy
Emeritus
April 7th 2010


22494 Comments


Yeah, I'd say 150 is a milestone. Get that mind ticking over.

AtavanHalen
April 7th 2010


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ahh man. Wait, what was yours?

Enotron
April 8th 2010


7695 Comments


Wait I don't get it.....he does have downs syndrome right?



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