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"Jamie Cullum – “Catching Tales”"

Review by Eric 'Renderking' Fisk - September 2006 -  Bookmark and Share

"Jamie Cullum – "Catching Tales"Jazz/Pop Album – Best New Music of 2005

 During 2005, there were a lot of CD’s that were released that would have been of great interest to readers of The Fedora Chronicles. But the vast majority were re-issues of work that’s already been out there, such as compilations for artist such as Thelonious Monk. Then there were the modern/contemporary artists singing standards such as Rod Stewart’s “Great American Song Book Collection” or Carlie Simon’s “Moonlight Serenade.”

All of of those releases were great, all of them would be proud additions to your music library. But not enough new music out there was original, or good enough to capture the hearts, ears and imagination of Vintage Aficionados and retro-centric listeners. But there was one album that stood out above the box sets and compilation disks… the best was the sophomore album from Jamie Cullum: “Catching Tales”.

One of the points of starting The Fedora Chronicles was to point folks in the direction of music, movies and books that captures the essence of a by-gone era while at the same time having it’s own identity that fits well into the first decade in the 21st Century. It would seem that description fits this album perfectly. Over all, the music is a hybrid of Jazz and modern pop. It’s something that I can listen to with hardcore jazz enthusiasts (with the exception of maybe a few purists) or I can listen to with modern pop junkies as a means of weaning them off pap from pop-tarts like Britney Spears or Jessica/Ashlee Simpson.

Ren's RantsAnother way to describe a few of the songs on  “Catching Tales” is to imagine if back in the 1940’s, Dooley Wilson was replaced somehow with someone who’s influences were Billy Joel and Harry Connick Jr. and Warner Brothers asked him to write song  for “CASABLANCA…” Not possible to be sure, but that’s pretty much the easiest way to describe this music for readers of this website. Jamie Cullum has his own identity, and it’s as if somehow he’s been given the mantle that Mr. Joel and Mr. Connick and other performers had and was given the charge to take the modern jazz/pop fusion to new levels.

The other songs that don’t sound like something that might belong in “Rick’s Café American” are just great jazz/pop hybrid songs that were written by a twenty/thirty-something with something to actually to say. There’s a lot of depth to all these songs, written with humor and intelligence. Some songs on this disk also have a slight infusion of hip/hop… not just to give it an urban edge but just to give this album a little more octane.


Song Synopses

"Get Your Way" – Very up-beat jazz/hip-hop fusion song, humorous song about the trials and tribulations, perhaps a tribute to a spoiled woman in his past. "London Skies" is a very clean and brisk acoustic song, a perfect driving song.

"Photograph" is a tribute to the times of adolescent discovery and the mistakes most of us make during our teen years. Very reminiscent of various tracks on Billy Joel’s best album: "The Stranger." "21st Century Kid" Another song that’s reminiscent of the earlier works of Billy Joel, but a very modern ballad about the worries and angst about modern times and tribulation for the future.

"I Only Have Eyes For You," a soulful remake of a classic song with an ‘after-midnight’ ambiance. "Nothing I Do" is in the same vein as “Get Your Way…" Another song about troubled love always seems to translate beautifully with Jazz. "I’m Glad There’s You…" Very much like the perfect 1930’s/40’s night club song with a trio of a piano, drum and base, capturing the very essence of early love or a broken heart… while "Oh God" is another perfect song that captures the essence of early Jazz.

“Mind Tricks" Very unique song on this disk, has the “Minnesota Sound" that was very popular in the 1980’s that was made popular through disks that came out of “Paisley Park."

"7 Days To Change Your Life," "Our Day Will Come" and "Back To The Ground" are all cleaver songs while sounding like a parody of the “groovy Las Vagas" style of Jazz or poking fun at modern gimmicks of our modern era, while at the same time very enjoyable to listen to.

The final song on this album "My Yard" brings the album back to its main theme, a perfect blend of traditional jazz and modern pop.

As this album seems stuck permanently in my disk player (or the one in my wife’s car, as she’s been listening to it, too… which is high praise because she’s a tougher critic then I am…) one might get the impression that we’re listening to someone who SHOULD be a bigger star then he is, it’s like listening to Elvis Presley (or, more appropriately, Elvis Costello) or Paul McCartney before they were stars. Listening to this album also reminds me of the first time I heard Norah Jones, giving me reason to believe that we’re on the cusp of a new Renaissance in Jazz.

This is a great album that belongs in more collections. Bookmark and Share

More information on Jamie Cullum and his music can be found on his website.



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Written content copyright Eric "Renderking" Fisk,2005.
Copyright © The Fedora Chronicles.
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