Review: Interlude by Jamie Cullum (CD) Print E-mail

leprotti(Music & Musicians Issue 41 2015)

Some vocalists take wing as teen sensations and circle the port; some launch as adults and fly transcontinental. Few make the shift—few as driven as England’s Jamie Cullum: 7 albums in 15 years. He of the bedhead, the suit-and-Converse-wearing Phenom, the 20-year-old crooner who hit pop-smart with 1999’s Heard It All Before. Cullum’s latest, Interlude, meshes jazz and near-jazz: 15 tunes in search of his comfort zone, which, gorgeously produced, still sounds a touch over-comfy, a tad couch-safe. On “My One and Only Love,” the song’s yearning plods, lacking the vibrant candor of his 1999 trio recording. Same with Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues,” a ribald honky-tonker too slow-to-pop, though the band’s country funk is heel-toe firm. Several gems here do shine with an inner ferocity, especially when Cullum and an orchestra parlay. Of the album’s two duets, Gregory Porter’s preacherly conviction on the Animals’ classic “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” unbuckles the ride. The sound is brassy, torch-bearing, and the balladeer gets it. Best of show is Jule Styne’s “Make Someone Happy,” the voice/solo piano blend bleedingly sincere. Here a full-grown Cullum crosses conflicted emotions; he’s as much pained by as he’s possessed of the tune’s declaration. Overall—less pap, more tart, please. The talent’s undeniable.