All entries for Thursday 03 November 2005

November 03, 2005

And I don't even like cars

4 out of 5 stars

So much to talk about - maths conferences, blog style updates, almost early mornings - but I thought I'd pick something you might actually care about.

[Warning: this is the anecdote. Feel free to skip this paragraph and start reading the review from the next.] A long long time ago, I bought a CD at Morisson's [I shall never use consistent spelling for that store's name on this blog. Yes, that's a declaration.] long before they had a special CD issue desk and once I got home, to my shock there was no CD in the case. Due to a sudden change in daily regime I didn't end up in Morrison's [OK, that one's on purpose] for a whole month and only decided to take my chances last weekend. Lo and behold I say, I got my money back and as a true materialist, I traded the shiney metal for a new record, and now I am the proud owner of a masterpiece. I think.

[Warning: this paragraph doesn't say anything about the music. You might want to skip just one more paragraph.] Main reason for giving this album only 4 stars, is because I can't believe it's brilliant. After a week of listening, I haven't recognized a gem like Twentysomething or All At Sea, but then again those songs wouldn't fit on this album. For some reason, I like buying CDs [I know that was a jump, but trust me, I'm getting somewhere] for usually, someone has put effort in the artwork, and I'd like to think that the artwork tells you something about the CD (**). In Jamie Cullum's case, Twentysomething's blue and relaxed cover, gave the album a very 'blue' feeling, not as in 'feeling blue', but rather chilled and distant, not really sure of a direction (think of the title track). Catching Tales is more of a statement. Jamie Cullum stands bang in the middle almost looking at you. The red, jazzy font stands out and predicts a more certain direction and warmer feeling. Extra natural patterns give the sense of richer material, in song and lyrics. Those great chilled hits from Twentysomething would not fit in with the warm feelings this album produces.

[Actually, skip this one as well. No music talking here.] So is warm good or bad? Doesn't a great album need great songs? See, that's where I got stuck, and why I don't dare giving it that 5th star [unlike every other reviewer on the blogs - but I'll leave a rant about reviews for later.] - I've been listening to the album while typing this entry, and haven't had the slightest temptation to skip a track. Maybe because they're equally class tracks, or maybe because they're all just mediocre but form something wonderful when played together. Maybe I'm just waiting for the speedy bit in 7 Days to Change Your Life or the word 'grandmother' in Fascinating Rhythm – the word doesn't fit there, but does it make the song better or worse? It hasn't annoyed me yet, and the fact that it stands out and makes me think about it is something good, I guess.

The big change is that his voice is now actually part of the music. Unfortunately, there is no brilliant scatting on Catching Tales, but instead, Jamie's voice has gotten more tuneful and playful, and can you don't have to listen to the lyrics to get the song, as there is more music to help you understand. I don't know any music theory, but I can count, and I'm pretty sure there are more different tones and more 'fascinating rhythms' to be found on this album than any of his previous work. Despite the lack of scatting. Listen to Our Day Will Come and you'll hear everything this album has to offer in one song.

No great recognizable piano fiddling from All At Sea, hardly any scatting [while listening to Fascinating Rhythm, which is all about scatting and rhythm, but it's the penultimate track. Bear with me!] and no great covers you'd love to hear him sing ala High and Dry. Why on earth should you buy this album? It's jazz for the masses. Ali can't stand jazz and she managed to stay in the room and actually listen to the album [granted, her bf Rich had just cooked another amazing meal, but hey, there are more rooms and still she chose to sit with us keep listening!] The last song has just come up and I'm actually sad it's almost over. It's got the joy Maroon 5 songs or Scrubs bring to some of you. It's got the loveliness of Norah Jones but is too cool for the O.C. [seriously!]. Jamie's still Twentysomething but has found his direction and it's a good direction. Music for the masses is not necessarily a bad thing.

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