The dastardly United Kingdom may have been basking in the warm glow of Rumer’s Seasons of My Soul since November of 2010, but with an American release date of just a few days ago I figured it would be a good time to get acquainted.
Rumer (Sarah Joyce) was born in Pakistan. She began her musical career in London with a folk band called La Honda, forming Rumer & the Denials shortly after in 2004. By 2007, an album of solo material entitled Coffee and Honey was released under her real name hit South Korea.
Seasons of My Soul eventually dropped in the UK and made a splash, landing Rumer a gig supporting Joshua Radin on his 2010 tour. Better still, Burt Bacharach took note and invited the singer to his home. He has since written songs for her and joins Elton John and Jools Holland among those luminaries taken in by her silky tone.
Rumer is, to my ears at least, a vocalist that brings to mind touches of Karen Carpenter and Carole King. At 32-years old, she is a touch older than the current crop of dicey pop singers and that’s plenty good news. She has an old-fashioned spirit, drawing her notes out prudently without need for showy runs or kitschy histrionics.
Rumer’s sleekness sets Seasons of My Soul apart from other many pop/soul/jazz releases. Her restraint, song-writing prowess and sense of melody all derive from her background listening to the movielike, swanky songs of the '70s.
“Am I Forgiven?” kicks off the record with a little of that 70s pop bounce. The song feels like a colourful walk down the street.
“Come to Me High” is a jazzy, soft tune that makes the most of Rumer’s bluesy tendencies. She nearly whispers the vocals while a trumpet provides accompaniment. Shrewd listeners will discover that there are some Bacharach-inspired chords rolling through.
The first single from the record, “Slow,” is a light number that will fit in any smooth jazz playlist for a wine-infused Saturday dinner party. Rumer articulates gorgeously, climbing the scales with graceful straightforwardness.
“Aretha” has the Queen of Soul as its subject and allows Rumer to tell a story of a young girl who is largely disregarded only to have Aretha Franklin’s music move her soul. Once again, Rumer is calm and elusive. She resists the all-too-common trend of uncorking the bottle before the main course, instead letting the soul come from a deeper, more organic place.
With North America’s general fondness for overpowering, dramatic vocalists, I’m not sure that Rumer’s Seasons of My Soul will get as much publicity as it deserves. I hope I’m wrong. Rumer's subtle, softer style may strike some as being too reserved, but this is one old-school singer I’ll damn sure be keeping track of.