I first heard of Jamie Cullum about two years ago while flipping past VH1. His latest music video, All At Sea was in heavy rotation, and I immediately fell in love with the song. I investigated further by purchasing Jamie’s debut album, Twentysomething and was treated with a disc full of new hits, and classic standards; both wonderfully done.
The thing I enjoyed most about Twentysomething was the fact that Jamie was great at bridging the gap between the classics and the original songs. New songs like High and Dry worked just as well as oldies like Lover, You Should Have Come Over.
Jamie doesn’t exactly continue this trend with his new album, Catching Tales, as much of the music is new material. I was a bit nervous about how well this change would work, but Jamie pulled it off wonderfully, and you can’t help but wonder if one day the songs that he wrote on this album won’t become classics on their own.
The first single, Get Your Way is an upbeat, jazzy track and a great way to start off the album. Though the song is an original, Jamie borrows the beat from a jazz song titled, “Get Out Of My Life Woman”, which works well with the drums and piano.
The pace slows down a bit with songs like London Skies and Photograph. Lyrically, Photograph is one of my favorite songs on the album with lyrics like, “It seems like another person lived that life a great many years ago from now/When I look back on my ordinary, ordinary life/I see so much magic though I missed it at the time”, which is obviously a reflection on the brevity of life. London Skies pays homage to Jamie’s hometown, and works beautifully with the simple piano work that provides the melody.
Nothing I Do is one of the standout tracks on the album, and brings the tempo back up a bit from its predecessors. The combination of the cheeky lyrics (“Can nothing I do/Make you happy anymore?/…The next day I called you back/And you called me a stupid tw-t”) and the nonchalance in Jamie’s voice makes this song one of my favorites.
Other favorites on the album are the slower ballads, 21st Century Kid, Oh God, and 7 Days To Change Your Life. All three are extremely well written, so all accolades can go to Jamie himself for that feat.21st Century Kid is a look at today’s society, that comes off as being reminiscent of Billy Joel. Oh God is actually somewhat of a humble prayer, with lyrics like “I know it’s been a while/Since I have talked to You/But maybe You’re the One who/Makes the winds blow”. 7 Days is another tongue-in-cheek song, and Jamie sounds wonderful as he sings “In just seven short days/You’ll change your life/…Send me your money/And I’ll change your life”.
Catch The Sun, I’m Glad There Is You,Our Day Will Come, and I Only Have Eyes For You mark the only remakes on the album. Catch The Sun, a song originally by the Doves, is a fun upbeat track with a heavy piano based melody. Our Day Will Come is a schmaltzy-sounding tune that reminds me of the music that Sprint plays when they put you on hold during a customer service call. That’s not really a good thing. However, Jamie redeems himself with the ballad, I’m Glad There Is You. From the simple melody, to the lovely vocals, only Sinatra himself could rival Jamie here. I Only Have Eyes For You takes a jazzy twist, which unfortunately doesn’t work too well, and is usually a skip for me.
One of the few other songs that falls flat is the R&B influenced Mind Trick. The beat is decent, but the track just turns out to be a bit of a bore.
The album winds down with two solid tracks. Back To The Ground is another funk-type song, but comes off a lot better than Mind Trick. Here, the piano works well, and Jamie sings the song with such soul that you feel yourself getting lost in the music as you listen along. My Yard closes the album with an acoustic sound to it, as Jamie asks his special someone to “Hail a taxi cab/And come around here/…Take a trip to my yard”. The soft vocals and guitar end the album on a wonderfully calm note.
All in all, Catching Tales is a great follow up to Twentysomething. If you were a fan of the standards and remakes on that album, you might be a bit wary to check out this one, but needless to say, this album gives the opportunity for Jamie’s songwriting and vocal ability to shine.
1. Get Your Way
2. London Skies
4. I Only Have Eyes For You
5. Nothing I Do
6. Mind Trick
7. 21st Century Kid
8. I’m Glad There Is You
9. Oh God
10. Catch The Sun
11. 7 Days To Change Your Life
12. Our Day Will Come
13. Back to The Ground
14. My Yard