Rumer will release her much-anticipated debut album ‘Seasons Of My Soul’ on November 1 (Atlantic Records). Already a firm fixture in the pre-order charts, it will be preceded by the release of a new single, ‘Aretha’ October 25. This will follow the A-Listed success of her ‘Slow’ EP (which reached Number 1 on ITunes) and a sell-out debut show at London’s Bloomsbury Theatre on Tuesday, September 14.
An Anglo-Pakistani singer and songwriter, many will already be familiar with Rumer’s first single, ‘Slow’: a smouldering unrequited love song, with a stop-you-in-your-tracks vocal that saw radio producers inundated with phone calls, asking what they were listening to. It became the surprise hit of the summer, and is an introduction to an array of classic yet contemporary pop songs. Musically, ‘Slow’ – and much of the album itself – is influenced by Rumer’s upbringing, which takes in a childhood spent in an enclosed, exotic expat colony in Pakistan. Here, her family would often sing and write songs together, determined to provide their own entertainment in the absence of TV or newspapers. Then, they relocated to the New Forest, where Rumer first saw a television, and married her love of the folk tradition with the sweeping melodies of the technicolor movie musicals. It is a blissful harmony, which you can hear in the likes of ‘Slow’ and ‘Come To Me High’.
Behind Rumer’s great voice is a significant amount of emotional depth, in part signposted by the album’s startling opening lyric: “I lost my heart, I didn’t know what to do,” she sings, against the soaring melodies of ‘Am I Forgiven?’ Lyrically, the album resonates with several key moments from her life: from her parents’ painful separation to the time Rumer spent living in a caravan to be near her dying mother, via a decade spent slogging away on the acoustic scene, working as everything from a pot-washer to a popcorn-seller. Yet the record retains a sense of mystery – and a fondness for strange imagery – that prevents it from becoming merely autobiographical. ‘Healer’ is a still, simple and stunning piece of songwriting, on which Rumer asks Time itself for a change in fortune, whilst the classic, soulful pop of ‘Aretha’ interweaves her relationship with her mother into the tale of a girl seeking solace in Aretha Franklin: “mama, she’d notice but she’s always cryin’/ I’ve got no one to confide in / Aretha, nobody but you.”
Rumer’s debut, then, is a sometimes dark but ultimately uplifting record, made around the time that her luck began to turn. She wrote the beautiful ‘Blackbird’ in a colourful hippy commune in the countryside, where – having fled her various London jobs – she lived for a year alongside a debonair, philanthropic baronet. It was the song that proved to be her turning point. Returning to London, determined to throw herself into the music, she met, by chance, award-winning TV and musical composer Steve Brown: perhaps known to most of us as the face of Glen Ponder in Alan Partridge’s ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’. Brown quickly became Rumer’s somewhat surprising choice of producer, and has helped shape the subtle sounds across the album (from the pin-drop beauty and lyrical optimism of ‘Thankful’ to the rousing, singalong-in-waiting, ‘Goodybye Girl’).
In March 2010, almost a decade on, Rumer finally signed to Atlantic Records. She soon began to reach ears as influential as Elton John and Burt Bacharach, the latter of whom was so blown away that he invited he to his Los Angeles home, just to hear him sing. It is these pinch-me moments that you’d be hard pressed to deny Rumer has earned, not in the least because of the timeless quality of this debut album.
October 2010 28 BBC Radio 2 Electric Proms (with Elton John, Leon Russell, Plan B)
November 2010 2 Tabernacle (Headline Show) – London
12 Oxford- New Theatre – Supporting Jools Holland
13 Bristol – Colston Hall – Supporting Jools Holland
16 Mencap Little Noise Sessions (with Paolo Nutini) / Union Chapel, London
24 Nottingham – Royal Centre – Supporting Jools Holland
25 Leicester – De Montfort – Supporting Jools Holland
26 London – Royal Albert Hall – Supporting Jools Holland
27 London – Royal Albert Hall – Supporting Jools Holland
December 2010 – headline tour13 Glee Club – Birmingham 14 Band On The Wall – Manchester 15 Classic Grand – Glasgow 17 Shepherds Bush Empire – London