Jamie Cullum tipped too heavily toward coffeehouse electronica on his fourth album, Catching Tales, obscuring his charms as both a jazzy pianist and a soft rock crooner, so he wisely scales back to his strengths on The Pursuit. Despite a brassy opening cover of Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things,” The Pursuit is hardly a retreat to Harry Connick, Jr. territory. Cullum anchors himself within melodic soft rock, providing a base for incorporating both his jazz and persistent electronica infatuations. Since The Pursuit is produced as a pop album, those electronica flourishes wind up seeming seamless, underscoring what Cullum does best: unabashedly mainstream adult pop, whether it’s the insistent rush of “Mixtape” or the wonderful ‘70s throwback “I’m All Over It.” Much of The Pursuit mines this fertilely mellow vein, producing a bunch of understatedly melodic music whose consistency suggests that Cullum realizes his strength as a soft rock singer/songwriter.
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