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 Bublé.
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.”)
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”).