March 12, 2010

I fell in love with Jamie Cullum, a contemporary British jazz singer, because of his clever lyrics and his unconventional sound (no Harry Connick or Michael Buble), when I saw him on the Today Show promoting his album Twentysomething (“I’m an expert on Shakespeare and that’s a hell of a lot / but the world don’t need scholars as much as I thought”).

His new album is The Pursuit, and I’ve really been enjoying it. At very first listen I wasn’t sure because it opened up with the sort of smooth, big horns sound that he usually avoids, but mostly it’s an energetic, driving sort of album. And he continues his unconventional choices for cover songs: on The Pursuit, the big ones are a really sexy cover of Rihanna’s “Please Don’t Stop the Music” and “Not While I’m Around”, from Sweeney Todd. Yes, from Sweeney Todd. If you don’t know the musical, I’m sure it’s a lovely song in and of itself. If you do, I think Cullum gets across some of the weirdness, even in the seemingly lovely song…it’s in a strange key, and notes are held just a little too long and creepily.

Very strong.