Album: Jamie Cullum

Catching Tales, Candid
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Am I missing something here, or does Jamie Cullum really represent the new benchmark of musical mediocrity, as seems to be the case? It's not that I abhor in principle the attempt to revive the standard Sinatra schtick, but even compared to a second-generation retro-fabricator like Harry Connick Jr, Cullum sounds gauche and amateurish. His covers of standards such as "I Only Have Eyes for You" and "Our Day Will Come" are entirely lacking in the magic - the charisma, the panache, whatever it is - required to illuminate them, and despite the cool shuffle applied to the latter song, seem no more than journeyman karaoke efforts. And what on earth he imagines is gained by transforming Doves' "Catch the Sun" into supper-club jazz-fusion, one can only hazard to guess. Listening to Catching Tales is like being "entertained" by a friend's stage-struck precocious brat, one constantly personalising his performance with smug flourishes of ersatz jazz piano and excruciating bursts of scat-singing or whistling. Despite the occasional sharp line - I liked the bit in "Nothing I Do" about "Next day I called you back/ And you called me a stupid twat" - Cullum's own songs wrestle with weighty issues like faith, love, and political disillusion, but never deeply or memorably. Rather than the young new Sinatra, he's the British Bruce Hornsby.