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Thursday 14 December 2017

Rumer salutes the boys of the seventies

Ryan Tubridy might disagree, but some would say it was The Mike Flowers Pops who put easy listening back on the hipsters' radar with their chintzy version of Wonderwall in the mid-Nineties.



Compilation albums celebrating the work of Burt Bacharach, Matt Monroe and a host of velvet-voiced crooners followed. Not just men, of course. Queen of the ladies was Whitney Houston's auntie, Dionne Warwick.

When Rumer, aka Sarah Joyce, arrived two years ago with Seasons of My Soul, she sounded like a reincarnation of Karen Carpenter. Rumer's own compositions moved her performances beyond pastiche. Back then Rumer was buoyant. The long hours working with her producer and mentor, TV composer Steve Brown had paid off, setting her sensitive vocals in warm, lush lounge arrangements.

It was easy then to advise Rumer that her career was going to rocket.

She laughed, welcoming what might come her way after years of artistic struggle and the trauma of having discovered back in England that her biological father was a local cook who'd worked for her family when they lived in Pakistan. As predicted, sales of the album exploded. Rumer's been around the world many times since then. She's also split from her manager and her producer.

In conversation recently, she sounded tired. ("The schedules are relentless. I don't have any sense of time anymore. I'm exhausted. I've just come back from the White House where I sang for the President.")



isolation

But Rumer was at pains to explain that the 12 songs on this new album, carefully chosen after hours of trawling YouTube with her former producer, reflects her sense of isolation. "They're quite dark," she says.

Her triumph has been to make songs by composers as diverse as Issac Hayes (Soulsville), Jimmy Webb (PF Sloan) and Townes Van Zandt (Flyin' Shoes) sound as if they're written by the same person. On Ronnie Lane's Just For A Moment, Rumer finds her inner Bonnie Raitt. Through-out she reaches for each song's emotional core and quite often transcends the cloying arrangements. HHHII

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