Music for Anglophiles | ‘The Pursuit’, by Jamie Cullum
Jamie Cullum is an artist deserving of superlatives but more complex than a simple set of adjectives can depict. If you know him as “just” a jazz musician or from his strikingly creative way with cover versions (among them, Radiohead’s ‘High & Dry’ and Pharrell’s ‘Frontin’) you’re just familiar with the tip of the iceberg.
‘The Pursuit’, his fifth album and first new solo record in four years, is summed up by its title, taken from Nancy Mitford’s classic novel, The Pursuit Of Love. “In life, we pursue everything. Life is one long pursuit,” says Jamie and the album is just such a pursuit – a combination of his eclectic music tastes and enduring love of Jazz and its timeless standards.
It is a record that mixes his heritage with a thrilling selection of modern influences. Describing its sound he moves from Cole Porter to Rhianna to Aphex Twin in the same sentence. Jamie is a performer capable of delivering constant surprises with a talent elastic enough to evince a four-to-the-floor acoustic Ibiza song on the same record as a lushly recorded Jazz standard.
The making of ‘The Pursuit’ was a marathon not a sprint. Having decided to take time off after two years touring 2005’s ‘Catching Tales’ and the juggernaut of praise and press that followed the previous album 2003’s ‘Twentysomething’, Jamie turned to other projects. “I took a whole year off,” he says, “I played in other people’s bands and worked with other artists, I Dj’d, made dance music with my brother and travelled.” He also found time to build his own studio, Terrified Studios, in London’s Shepherd’s Bush – “I call it that because I am so unknowledgeable about technology that I’m usually terrified when I’m in there,” laughs Jamie.