In 2010 Rumer came, saw and conquered with the still lovely ‘Seasons Of My Soul’… since then not a lot. She has, of course, done a tour which she confesses she didn’t enjoy. She complained of feeling isolated on stage. Then there was the low key reissue of her Stereo Venus album (see our review archive) and now, finally, the release of her second “proper” album. It’s been around for a month or two and confounded both critics and fans of the debut set because she’s chosen to be a little different. For her sophomore effort Rumer’s chosen to record a body of songs written in the seventies by male singer/songwriters and she’s cast her net far and wide. Her selections range from the fey introspection of Clifford T Ward’s ‘Home Thoughts From Abroad’ to the gritty realism of Isaac Hayes’ ‘Soulsville’. In between there’s songs from the pens of people like Todd Rundgren, Bob Marley, Stephen Bishop, Tim Hardin, Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt and Jimmy Webb – a wide and eclectic sweep for sure, but what holds it all together and makes it work is the lady’s magnificent voice that, as on ‘Seasons Of My Soul’, caresses and inhabits the lyrics and it matters little whether she wrote the songs of not … she makes them her own.
It’s like, say, the way The Carpenters treated ‘Close To You’. Yes, Dionne Warwick and others had recorded it brilliantly but for all kinds of reasons Karen Carpenter’s version has become the defining and best-remembered one. The Karen Carpenter reference here is intentional. ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ has the easy-going and crystalline, laid back ambience of the Carpenters’ best and Rumer’s voice bears an uncanny resemblance to Karen’s. No surprise then that she offers a couple of songs that the Carpenters cut too, with the Paul Williams-penned ‘Travellin’ Boy’ a standout. Other album highlights include a take on Ronnie Lane and Ron Woods’ ‘Just For a Moment’, Terry Reid’s ‘Brave Awakening’ and Richie Havens’ ‘It Could Be The First Day’. Like everything on the album they’re wrap-around warm and so, so gentle but the quality of the material means that nothing’s lightweight.