Jamie Cullum - Catching Tales

Jamie Cullum's third album follows on from his second, Twentysomething, mixing his own songs with interpretations of jazz classics and modern rock songs. Undoubtedly Jamie Cullum is a talented pianist and his live shows reveal a great personal charm and enthusiasm for what he does. Unfortunately, that does not come across in his recordings.

There are some good songs on Catching Tales. The album is bookended by tracks showing two different personalities. The opening track, Get Your Way, featuring Dan the Automator, has Cullum as a lothario telling his lover how things are going to be; the final song is My Yard where Cullum is more of a boy-next-door asking a girl to come over to watch DVDs. Photograph sees him reminiscing about ex-girlfriends, partying and getting sick on "that stuff".

This time around Cullum has written or co-written over half of the songs and there are songs by Guy Chambers and Jamie's brother Ben. His cover versions include jazz standards and an interesting choice of rock songs. Previously he has covered Radiohead and Jimi Hendrix. Here Doves's Catch The Sun is changed from a guitar-driven rock song into a piano ballad. His version of The Wind Cried Mary on Twentysomething worked but this song does not. Recently Sinead O'Connor was asked why her album of reggae cover versions has remained close to the originals. She replied that the composers had done their job in writing down how the song should be performed so she didn't want to change them. That's not a sentiment which jazz musicians are likely to agree with but perhaps some songs are more suitable for jazzing-up than others.

There are 15 tracks on this album and they will appeal to his existing fans. Other tracks have been left off, notably his collaborations with Pharrell Williams and Andy Partridge of XTC. Maybe these tracks will appear as b-sides but they perhaps represented the opportunity for this album to move on from Twentysomething. For now we shall have to settle for more of what we already have.



out of 10

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