Six songs from Rumer

Rumer has an amazingly pure voice which doesn’t just channel Karen Carpenter but seemingly reincarnates her. Debut album Seasons Of My Soul went straight into the top 3 last week, thanks partly to the support of Smooth FM (hosting tonight’s competition winners show), Radio 2 and hip music journals like Uncut. Her classy TV performance of Leon Russell’s ‘Masquerade’ at Elton John’s Electric Proms brought her to an even wider audience. I suspect the album’s Bacharachesque ballads will stay in the top ten for some time.

Tonight, the question is whether she can sing as well live as she does on record. She does, in spades, with a relaxed stage manner and a crack band. Rumer’s more soulful than The Carpenters ever were, occasionally nearer to Dusty Springfield (for me, the greatest white soul singer). The only disappointment is that this 25 minute showcase only features six of the album’s eleven songs: ‘Am I Forgiven?’, ‘Slow’, ‘Saving Grace’, ‘Thankful,’ ‘Blackbird’ and closer ‘Aretha’, each one a highlight.

The above is extracted from a review of last night’s show I wrote for the Nottingham Post. It was only when I was listening to the album again over lunch that I noticed the clever way that one of the album’s best songs, ‘Thankful’, references the Carpenters’ version of Leon Russell’s classic song ‘Superstar’, a very neat way of acknowledging two influences. My favourite version of ‘Superstar’ however, is the one I first heard, a couple of years after it was recorded for Joe Cocker’s ‘Mad Dogs And Englishmen’ live double album (Russell was the tour’s musical director) . Download or listen to it below. Note that the relatively sacharine Carpenters version made two changes, one good (inverting the radio line), the other bad (changing ‘sleep’ to ‘see’). The latter change was presumably made in order to secure radio play. Or maybe it was that Karen was uncomfortable with a line where she dreams of having scuzzy sex with a rock star. It has to be said that there’s a smoky sexuality in Dusty’s voice (and, to some extent, Rumer’s) that is absent in hers.

Rita Coolidge – Superstar

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