melt­ing choco­late

Soul­ful Bri­tish singer-song­writer Rumer, with Pak­istani roots, is about to prove that the world re­ally does need her songs.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MUSIC - by ThOMAS h. GReeN

Soul­ful Bri­tish singer­song­writer Rumer is about to prove that the world re­ally does need her songs.

THINGS look good for Rumer.

She was flown to Cal­i­for­nia by Burt Bacharach so he could hear her sing; she was one of only two guests (the other be­ing Plan B) in­vited to join El­ton John and Leon Rus­sell at the BBC Ra­dio 2 Elec­tric Proms; she re­cently played Later ... With Jools Hol­land; and her new al­bum is re­ceiv­ing the kind of re­views that make most artistes crack open the cham­pagne.

Sit­ting in the bar of the Round­house in London, how­ever, the only drink on Rumer’s ta­ble is a pot of Earl Grey tea.

“The proof of it,” she al­lows, “will be if ladies who hap­pen to be stand­ing by the till in Tesco think, ‘Oh, that’ll be nice.’”

Ge­nial, at­trac­tive and mel­low, with a shawl over her shoul­ders, there is some­thing of the welle­d­u­cated hippy about Rumer. She’s at the Round­house on the fi­nal date of a tour sup­port­ing pop-folk heart­throb Joshua Radin. She tells how Radin was puz­zled by his turn on Terry Wo­gan’s live per­for­mance show at the BBC Ra­dio The­atre. “There were so many se­niors,” he told her.

“Those are my peo­ple,” laughs Rumer, 31, throat­ily.

Re­fresh­ingly, she’s not fo­cused on the trendy young de­mo­graphic and men­tions in­stead how once, when she sang Bill Withers’ song Grandma’s Hands in con­cert, an el­derly lady came up af­ter­wards and said how moved she’d been.

Her in­clu­sive, easy-go­ing at­ti­tude may de­rive from chas­ing a break­through for nigh on a decade, from her days with in­die group La Honda, who once had a song in a Tic Tac ad­vert, to re­cently pro­vid­ing vo­cals for Ger­man elec­tronic out­fit Boozoo Ba­jou. The songs on her new al­bum,

Sea­sons Of My Soul, were honed trawl­ing London’s live cir­cuit. They are smooth, im­me­di­ate, but shot through with heartache and sal­va­tion.

“The al­bum works on two lev­els,” Rumer says. “You can hear it like a No­rah Jones or Diana Krall al­bum, have it on in the back­ground and ig­nore it, or you can tune into it. Lyri­cally, I en­joy the chal­lenge of ex­plain­ing a com­plex and ab­stract emo­tional land­scape through song.”

This, lush melody aside, is where the al­bum hits home. Rumer is es­pe­cially proud of the song On My Way Home which “de­scribes a jour­ney that’s be­yond de­scrip­tion” – through grief af­ter the death of her mother from breast can­cer in 2003.

“My life is be­fore and af­ter,” she says. “Be­fore my mother’s death was the age of in­no­cence, hit­ting the road with La Honda, hav­ing fun. Af­ter­wards things went a lit­tle bit more se­ri­ous.”

Rumer was born Sarah Joyce, the youngest of seven chil­dren, to a Bri­tish fam­ily in Pak­istan, only find­ing out later in life that her birth was the re­sult of her mother’s af­fair with the fam­ily’s Pak­istani cook. When she was four they re­turned to Bri­tain and set­tled in the New For­est. Rumer be­came ob­sessed with old mu­si­cals and would sit with the video recorder and crayons, rewind­ing and writ­ing down the lyrics.

This bleeds into her mu­sic, and is brought out by her pro­ducer and ar­ranger Steve Brown. Brown is a com­poser for hire, prob­a­bly most fa­mous as band­leader Glenn Pon­der in Steve Coogan’s Alan Par­tridge show Know­ing Me,

Know­ing You, but he also com­posed the suc­cess­ful mu­si­cal

Spend, Spend, Spend. He saw Rumer at an open mic night and was mu­si­cally smitten, since in­vest­ing large amounts of time and money in her ca­reer.

How­ever, the mu­si­cal di­rec­tor of Harry Hill’s TV Burp did not seem an ob­vi­ous choice for a bud­ding Ca­role King.

“Peo­ple who cared about me and my mu­sic were hav­ing a go say­ing, ‘ You have got to be kid­ding,’ ” she re­calls, but Brown’s or­ches­tral sheen adds some­thing at­trac­tively retro to her work. I sug­gest the pair should do a Bond theme.

“Do you know,” she says con­spir­a­to­ri­ally, “I am work­ing on a se­cret project with John Barry.”

Her other ob­vi­ous in­flu­ence is the singer-song­writ­ers of Cal­i­for­nia’s Lau­rel Canyon com­mu­nity of the early 1970s. So much so, she even spent an ex­tended “hippy hol­i­day” at Carly Simon’s place in Martha’s Vine­yard a few years back, “stay­ing up drink­ing and play­ing gui­tar” with Simon, her son Ben Tay­lor and even James Tay­lor.

She has a song, not on the al­bum, called John Se­bas­tian’s Girl and quotes the lyrics, “I wish I could be there/Oh take me back/ Those Canyon days are over/How I wish I could be there.”

On stage at the Round­house, how­ever, there is no sign of pais­ley or flow­ers in her hair. Her 1.6m form is, in­stead, swathed in mod­est black. She con­cludes her half-hour sup­port set with Aretha, an emo­tive paean to child­hood lone­li­ness.

Her strik­ing hazel eyes are tightly closed. She can­not see that the hall is filled with young peo­ple who have ar­rived early to see her. — © The Daily Tele­graph UK 2010

Rumer’s Sea­sons Of My Soul is re­leased by Warner Mu­sic Malaysia

Emo­tional: Rumer’s al­bum Sea­son­sOfMySoul was honed trawl­ing London’s live cir­cuit.

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