The Pursuit Album Review – HeraldTribune.com

Cullum’s album lacks humility

By NATE CHINEN The New York Times

Published: Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 1:00 a.m.

During a quiet moment in “I’m All Over It,” the lead single from his third album, “The Pursuit,” Jamie Cullum adopts the air of a vulnerable man. “One dark morning,” he sings, reaching into his falsetto, “she left without a warning.” He sounds believably hurt, but only for an instant, and then he’s back to his spiel about moving on.

Moving on, moving up, moving out and about: This is Cullum’s standard operating procedure.

A British singer-songwriter and pianist with a loose foothold in jazz, he’s as well-known for the kinetic mania of his concerts as he is for the playful rasp in his voice.

“The Pursuit” internalizes that restless edge, ducking from big-band swing to semi-gloss pop to piano balladry to house music.

“I’m All Over It” is the album’s answer to “Haven’t Met You Yet,” the breakout hit of another crossover crooner, Michael BublĂ©.

Elsewhere, Cullum and his producer, Greg Wells, seem to be thinking of Coldplay, or rehashing past gambles. (A few years back Cullum got some mileage out of his lounge-jazz take on a Neptunes song. Here, less winsomely, he tackles the Rihanna hit “Don’t Stop the Music.”)

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This would all feel innocuous enough if Cullum gave any indication of humility. Too many songs on “The Pursuit” paint their singer as an un-self-conscious lout, too sure of his hand (“We Run Things”) or his taste (“Mixtape”) or his centrality in the world (“Wheels”).

GRADE: C-

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