Massive apologies all round. This blog is pretty much dormant at the moment while I focus on an election campaign as well as helping get the best MP in the country, Caroline Lucas, re-elected this time around. Along with my paid job and my other commitments, its meant I haven’t had a lot of time for poor old RepHERtoire. Don’t worry, I’ll be back on the case post-election.
Meanwhile, Ruth Shields has plugged the gap marvellously with this piece about Rumer.
Rumer: A happy discovery
One day, a cover of Todd Rundgren’s song Be Nice to Me came across my news feed as someone had posted it in the Facebook fan group I moderate. I liked what I heard, so I decided to investigate further. Rumer is 35 year old British singer/songwriter Sarah Joyce, whose voice is often compared to famous female singers of the 1970s, and her soulful, heartfelt music sounds like it could have come from that era. Her smooth, pitch-perfect voice blends with a retro soft rock sound that’s a welcome departure from most pop music of today. It’s perfect for taking a drive, working on the computer, or just relaxing at home.
Her cover of Be Nice to Me is one of an album’s worth of covers, entitled Boys Don’t Cry. This album, her second release, features songs written by artists such as Jimmy Webb, Paul Williams, Neil Young, and Hall & Oates. My favorite cover is P.F. Sloan, which was written by Jimmy Webb and originally performed by The Association. Her arrangement has more of a country feel and is quite likely to become stuck in your head. I also like her jazzy version of Sara Smile, and she actually appeared with Daryl Hall on an episode of his show Live From Daryl’s House.
Although she has done many excellent covers, she also has great original material. Rumer’s debut album, Seasons of My Soul, has a laid-back vibe and lushly orchestrated production. The song Aretha tells the story of a schoolgirl with a troubled home life who finds solace in the music of Aretha Franklin. Slow, a single from the album, is about being excited about a relationship while at the same time being afraid of it moving too fast.
Rumer’s newest release is called Into Colour. This album, co-written and produced by her fiancé Rob Shirakbari, explores personal subject matter such as mental health struggles on Reach Out and the pain of pregnancy loss on Butterfly, but also taps into nostalgia for simpler times on Pizza and Pinball, and ends on a peaceful note with I Am Blessed. The orchestral arrangements on Baby, Come Back to Bed are beautifully and tastefully done, and complement the rest of the song. The very danceable single, Dangerous, is a favorite for my 2 year old, who loves to listen to it while she spins around the living room.
It’s refreshing to hear a younger singer with a genuinely beautiful voice who does not rely on digital pitch correction and has an appreciation for the music of the 70’s. Rumer’s music can appeal to a wide range of people, from millennials like myself who are looking for well-produced, thoughtful pop music, to baby boomers who are nostalgic for the sound they grew up with.
Rumer is touring the US this April, playing the UK’s Cheltenham Jazz Festival in May, and then traveling to Japan in June. Find out more at rumer.co.uk.
Here’s a video of her singing Reach Out, from her new album.