Just recently I’ve become hooked on Jamie Cullum. I mean, what’s not to love? He’s a jazzy, poppy, bluesy dude who covers everyone from Rihanna to Jeff Buckley and he also covers old standards such as “I Only Have Eyes For You” and “I Get a Kick Out of You.” But he’s not just your standard cover artist. His original songs hold their own. He sings, plays piano and guitar and sometimes provides his own beat on the drums. If you haven’t given this talented Brit a chance, I suggest that you do. He’s got a little something for everyone. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. “I’m All Over It” – The Pursuit
This is one heck of a cheery break-up song. Adele could take a lesson from Mr. Cullum. Sure, she won six Grammys for her heartbreaking album 21, but not everyone is depressed when they break up with someone. Cullum happily sings about being “all over it,” although he drops hints that maybe his bright and happy mood is just a façade. He admits solemnly, “One dark morning she left without warning and took the redeye back to London town.” Then, as if to convince himself, he repeats the line, “I’m all over it now” over and over and over again. Okay, so maybe it’s a little depressing, but not Adele depressing.
2. “Mixtape” – The Pursuit
Jamie Cullum wants to make you a mixtape. Not a mixed cd, but a mixtape. He’s worried you might not even have a tape player, but that’s not going to stop him from making you quite possibly the best mixtape you’ve ever heard. It’ll range from Nine Inch Nails to Louis Armstrong. Maybe he’ll throw in Thelonious Monk or some Shangri-Las. He’s hoping that the mixtape’s going to make your heart go (cue drum solo). But mostly he’s hoping to get lucky. Yep.
3. “Twentysomething” – Twentysomething
Most of us go through a period when we have no idea what we want to do with our lives. Maybe you went to college to pursue a career in something that you don’t even like now. Maybe you could spend some time travelling. Or perhaps you could just sleep until you figure out what you should be doing with your life. Cullum lists all of his possibilities without ever picking one.
4. “Lover You Should’ve Come Over” – Twentysomething
This Jeff Buckley cover is probably my favorite cover Cullum does. I already loved Buckley’s version, but then Cullum comes along with his shortened, bluesy version. This is a perfect example of how to pay tribute to the original song, while at the same time making it your own. When his voice cracks while singing the line, “And he’s much too blind to see the damage he’s done…”, you can hear that this man’s in pain. All in all, Buckley will always be the king of this song, but Cullum serves as the saddened prince.
5. “Nothing I Do” – Catching Tales
A love gone bad is chronicled in this song. The fighting, the name-calling, the pleading for forgiveness, the regrets, the realization that maybe you’re better off – it’s all here. Once again, this is a cheery song (even ending with a chorus of catchy whistles) even though the subject matter is anything but. If only real break-ups could be this much toe-tapping fun.
6. “7 Days to Change Your Life” – Catching Tales
If Cullum were to go into late night informercials, this would be the song he’d play at the beginning and end of the program. He offers to completely change your life for just $19.95 (yes, he accepts all major credit cards). Not only will he turn your life around, but he’ll do it in just seven short days. By the end of the week, you’re going to be thinner, richer, happier, more desirable, a better parent, and anything else you want to be. He slows the song down as if to allow enough time to let all the false promises sink into his listeners. I tell you what, I’d buy his lies.