tue 22/10/2019

CD: Jamie Cullum - Taller | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Jamie Cullum - Taller

CD: Jamie Cullum - Taller

A divertingly eclectic set of originals from the all-embracing singer-songwriter

Staking out new ground: Jamie Cullum

On one level it’s a paean to stylistic pluralism, on another it’s a love letter to his wife. First and foremost, though, Taller sees Jamie Cullum staking out new ground as a singer-songwriter, adeptly aided by his long-time collaborator and friend – the conductor, arranger, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Troy Miller.

Propelled by a tight horn chart, strings, Miller’s crisp backbeat, plus a backing chorus that includes the stellar vocal talents of Brendan Reilly, LaDonna Harley Peters, Sharlene Hector, Sumudu Jayatilka, Xan Blacq and more, the title track’s compelling drop-out point at the close is a real coup de théâtre, as is the dramatic musical journey of “Life Is Grey” which moves inexorably from close-miked, piano-vocal intimacy to pounding strings and a sublime choral climax.

If “Mankind” and “The Age of Anxiety” both offer plaintive commentaries on societal woes, “Usher” presents a Prince-like funk workout, strongly flavoured by Tom Richards’ potent bari/tenor sax work and featuring the ear-catching timbres of kalimba and mellotron in its rambunctious instrumental breakdown.

“For the Love” is a Glastonbury-ready anthem complete with a vocal hook which, once heard, remains forever lodged in your consciousness. Elsewhere, the swooning melancholy of “Drink” is leavened by yet another widescreen, wildly enjoyable arrangement. Performed by Cullum backed solely by a 20-strong string section, and sounding like a lost song from Guys and Dolls, “You Can’t Hide Away From Love” is a bona fide standout.

Cullum gets to flex his falsetto to moving effect on “Monster”, while “Endings Are Beginnings” possesses something of Tom Waits’ hymnic simplicity in which the vocal line floats gossamer-light over a ghostly piano and a Hammond organ that offers almost subliminal harmonic support. ‘I write to learn what I’m thinking’, Culum sings. It's a line which could be considered emblematic of the album as a whole.


Sounding like a lost song from Guys and Dolls, “You Can’t Hide Away From Love” is a bona fide standout


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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