Friday, November 05, 2010

Album Review: Rumer - Seasons of My Soul (4/5)

I figured I’d skip Taylor Swift—I think I’ll get that later on—and go for something more adult folk soul than country-pop contemp—British singer/songwriter Rumer’s debut album Seasons of My Soul. Seductive lead single “Slow” landed the singer her first top 20 hit in the UK while I was on holiday in Africa, so I’m just as familiar with it as I am with the other 10 songs on this alluring set.

If anything, the album’s warming blend of enticing soul and emotional outlooks on bluesy folk—in the same vein as the soothing jazz of Norah Jones or the introspective soul of Sade—tied together with Rumer’s heart-warming, velvet reminiscent vocal, is nothing short of refreshing, a much needed switch up from both electro-pop and alternative rock.

“Am I Forgiven,” is an enchanting opener. Oozing with layered mellow guitar work, pacing drums and tambourines, melodic ‘60s pop-inspired harmonies fill the backdrop as she pleads (“Will you be there for me? Will you belong to me?). The silky angelic soul of “Come to Me High,” sort of re-calls the same style as Sade—diffusing vocal flourishes over a fragile arrangement in this case with an old fashioned ‘60s-pop spin, driven by nothing more than gentle drum beats and oscillating keyboards.

The album already reaches a seductive climax on the sibylline melody-strung soul of “Slow,” nicely followed by the heart-bearing guitar-driven folk of “Take Me as I Am,” as Rumer intricately grooms a courteous ballad about acceptance (“I need a love that’s unconditional, why don’t you try to understand”). Current single “Aretha,” is the soulful tribute to soul legend Aretha Franklin; a striking rhapsodic soul arrangement.

The album’s second half doesn’t hold up well—some of the songs here do become a little tedious and that seductive sound does become a little dried out. Rumer explores more textures within her vocal on the subtle drum-backed “Saving Grace,” nicely laced horns in the backdrop. “Thankful” strips Rumer down to just vocal and piano, in which she shines just a bright on the more instrument fulfilling numbers before. Following is “Healer” which if I’m not mistaken, sounds almost identical. “Blackbird” isn’t as musically appealing as some of the other songs on here, although it is as subtle as subtle can be, the love-tied lyrics however are a better ultimatum (“It’s so hard to say goodbye to you… I’ll carry you everywhere, so I don’t forget”).

I’m not too fond of the last two songs at the end, “On My Way Home,” venture into boring territories rather than seductive, tempting and alluring like the songs towards the beginning. Last number “Goodbye Girl” is better—strong melody and heavy drum and guitar arrangement—but not a favourite. Simplicity and the softening velvety texture of Rumer’s voice is what makes Seasons of My Soul a potential winner –delivering some wonderful alluring heart-warming tracks, but let’s itself down on its second half where it exhausts the sound and doesn’t sound as interesting. However, without singling out tracks—as an album Seasons works very well.

Best: Slow, Aretha, Come to Me High, Am I Forgiven, Thankful


Paul said...

brilliant review - i'm loving this album. it's totally soothing. magnificent. i feel like Karen Carpenter had a lost album discovered and that makes me very happy indeed

J.Mensah said...

Thank you Paul! I'm loving this a lot more than when I wrote this review. Pretty Phucking awesome.

ww_adh said...

Skipping Taylor Swift? That's shocking considering how you once lobbied for me to pay more attention to her. Now the tables are turned it seems, since I've already reviewed Speak Now. As far as Rumer goes, this album is gorgeous. I really like it a lot. "Come to Me High" is a amazing standout. Reminds me of George Michael's jazzy slow songs.