Jamie Cullum, Taller - album review
Jamie Cullum is back with his eighth studio album.
And those accustomed to the stripped back, lazy jazz that made him a breakout hit back in the early 00s will probably be taken aback by this grown up, bolder musician before them.
The accomplished jazz-pop tracks in front of us, full of big beats here and pained piano melodies there, are closer to the mainstream ideal of what jazz should be than anything else we have heard from him before.
This isn't a bad thing. The string of genre crossover hits Mark Ronson had with various guest artists showed how the pop charts could accommodate the less publicly celebrated of British music fields.
Now Cullum, with the help of Ronson's producer Troy Miller - who also works with Birmingham's own Laura Mvula, has started to bend the lines too.
The potential party-time hit Usher does this perfectly. We're bouncing around here like we're part of Pharell Williams' latest summertime anthem as punchy bass and funk-fused percussion lead the merry dance of this riotous foot-stomper.
The opening title track sounds like the kind of piano punching tunes Alicia Keys used to master with those big orchestral sounds swirling underneath to create the kind of aural assault that gears you up for any big challenge.
There's regret and heartache oozing through Drink. Cullum slows things right down here to smack us in the gut with orchestral walls of sound and tear-jerking piano melody.
We go lighter too. The swirling piano interlude on Life Is Grey is beautifully calm, and For The Love is a slow burner that uses Cullum's voice to pull us towards the gospel-esque crescendo finish.
It's a confident record. A man who has experienced a lot through his own music and via meeting others on his successful BBC Radio 2 show has gathered the best ingredients of the lot and merged them into this plush, pleasing amalgamation of the pop and jazz worlds.
If he continues with this vein, he has a long while to go in this game yet.
Jamie Cullum will play Birmingham's Symphony Hall on March 15, 2020
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