Catching Tales

Studio Album by released in 2005

Catching Tales review

Explosive singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Jamie Cullum – a two-million selling Grammy nominee whose breakout album Twentysomething was a worldwide smash last year and garnered a Grammy nomination – has finished work on his newest release, Catching Tales. Recorded in London and Los Angeles between April and June of this year and produced by Twentysomething producer Stewart Levine, the album showcases both Cullum's raw energy and insatiable musical curiosity and creativity. The 25-year-old Cullum is the antithesis of a manufactured pop star. He served a tough apprenticeship playing on cruise ships and at weddings, and hails from the world of jazz. Catching Tales, a smorgasbord of jazz standards, pop, swing and r&b grooves, is the ultimate Jamie Cullum album. He has collaborated with a range of music svengalis, including Guy Chambers, Dan the Automator (from The Gorillaz and collaborations with DJ Shadow), Salaam Remi, Ed Harcourt and many more, but he's careful not to forget his roots and his brother Ben has co-written a number of tracks on this album, as he did on Twentysomething.

Jamie's influences are far wider ranging than just swing. Which is something that shines through on Catching Tales, a record that nods to both the future and the past. The single Get Your Way is a perfect example of Jamie's progressive approach, blending as it does the new (an urban groove) with the old (big band swells and piano licks). He also ditches the piano from time to time to reveal decent guitar skills on a folk pop ode, London Skies, to his adopted home. Elsewhere Jamie teams up with former Robbie Williams collaborator Guy Chambers for the achingly beautiful Oh God, does wonderful things to indie band Doves' brooding Catch The Sun and snares Ed Harcourt for blues jam Back To Ground. Of the jazz classics that the artist revisits, I Only Have Eyes For You stands out, mixing a welcome familiarity with Cullum's own special style.

In 2005, most rock bands, let alone purveyors of easy-listening jazz-pop, are content to operate with the safety catch on: challenging the audience's perceptions is pretty low on the agenda. In its own gentle way, that's exactly what Catching Tales tries to do. Jamie Cullum says of his latest album: "It's a better representation of what I am and what I want to be as a musician. I wanted the music to do more of the talking this time rather than having to explain it." He adds: "People ask why I play jazz and it's because you can take it to so many different places. You can embrace dance music, rock, pop, classical, funk and everything... and I touch on all those things in this record." It's a bold statement but one that is effectively achieved throughout the album for Catching Tales is something that can be enjoyed by jazz fans and the uninitiated alike. It is an accomplished effort that ought to put the skeptics in their place while, quite possibly, extending jazz's reach to a wider fanbase.