on 29 May 2012
This is a very classy album which should probably be required listing for all contestants in the current crop of Saturday night warble fests. Sure, it looks and sounds as if it was recorded in 1972 but Sarah Joyce is such a gifted interpreter of this material that it never sounds like a pastiche or a mere exercise in nostalgia. The song choice is solid, mining a number of 70s classics for material but avoiding the obvious. This approach could easily yield several more albums and you may find yourself wondering what a Rumer version of X or Y would sound like. Her voice recalls the great singers of the era, obviously K.C. and Dusty but I was also reminded of the great (and tragic) Judee Sill. If the thought of Karen Carpenter covering Townes Van Zandt sets your pulse racing then do give the album a go (the inclusion of `Flyin' Shoes' is the ultimate seal of quality in my book). Even so, Rumer has her own voice and truly inhabits these songs.
Sarah Joyce has a lovely voice. No doubt about it. Her sophomore offering
'Boys Don't Cry', however, is a risky proposition all-things-told. An album
of covers for her second outing may possibly alienate some of the fans who
gave such a big thumbs-up to her unimpeachable debut 'Seasons Of My Soul'
but as it happens the sixteen tracks in this collection win through by virtue
of her easy, relaxed delivery and flawless interpretations. It's easy
listening in the nicest possible way. Her London gig at St James church
last week also proved that, live, she is a personable and confident
performer too. Comparisons with Karen Carpenter continue to stalk her
like a shadow (no bad thing in my view) but beyond this Ms Joyce
is asserting her own position as one of the finest new singers currently
working within our shores. Take a song like Isaac Hayes' bluesy 'Soulsville';
her rendition proves that she has a capacity for real soul. She glides
through the number with ease, supported by some cracking gospel backing
vocals and wonderfully restrained playing from her sympathetic instrumental
ensemble. Her take on Hall and Oates 'Sara Smile', too, is a complete joy.
Townes Van Zandt's 'Flying Shoes' gets a dusting down and comes up shining
like a new silver sixpence and opening track 'P.F.Sloan' by Jimmy Webb will
melt your heart if you let it. On the down side Gilbert O'Sullivan's 'We Will'
requires an effort of will to see beyond its composer's schmaltzy sentiment.
On the other hand, 'It Could Be The First Day' by Richie Havens positively
glows with warmly articulated and richly realised emotion. A real treasure.
Producer Steve Brown does a grand job at the desk from top to tail.
Next time around I expect we will be treated to further original material
(Ms Joyce is a very fine songwriter) but for now 'Boys Don't Cry' is a worthy
stepping stone which more than deserves our admiration and attention.
on 5 June 2012
Although an unashamed fan of Rumer and her talents, it doesn't put me beyond constructive criticism. As I commented on the review posted by 'The Wolf' I felt a bit removed from the material when I heard it for the first time at St James Church, it was a step away from Seasons album in many ways. My first impressions were less Rumer here I am in-a-sense, more Rumer ostensibly performing material by others and obviously so, but that view has changed with a few plays. (Edit: really growing on me, like a Streisand early album in many ways, so beautifully sung and rambling, I really wish we could rate these reviews in 0.5 increments)
Now I feel you can sense the songs are sung with meaning and sincerity and that beautiful voice is great to hear again. I doubt I will move to hear the originals so I have enjoyed the album as a whole, and for me it will be Rumer - not the original artists - who will come to own them, as I am sure will be the case with the majority of people listening to the album. I think it might be a benefit not having heard the originals too, for me you are always comparing this bit with that and it takes away something from the enjoyment. To rate this album with five stars would put it on the same pedestal as the outstanding Seasons which I don't think would be fair but it sparkles in places and is a good addition to an album collection. We all have favourites, but I particularly liked P.F Sloan, It could be the Last Day, Be Nice to Me, Sara Smile, Flyin' Shoes, Soul Rebel, A Man needs a Maid.
Home Thoughts from Abroad has the same beautifully banal lyrics as Thankful (from Seasons), maybe somewhere there is a link, both beautifully sung mind.
Not entirely sure if it is relevant but for the first time-ever I purchased a set of medium-range headphones to listen to material ripped to iTunes in Lossless format (B&W P5's) and it is striking how much more detail and clarity you discover with a recording such as this. Rumers voice is strongly accentuated, it is beautiful, just crystal-clear on this album and the production of the songs is superb to my mind. Well done all involved, and particularly the musicians and backing singers who allow Rumers' talent to shine so strikingly.
on 4 June 2012
There will be no arguments from me about the quality of Rumer's song selections, all from male singer songwriters of the 70s and many neglected for far too long, for example, Clifford T Ward's emotional Home Thoughts From Abroad. My problem with the album is that it makes me want to go back to John Oates' original guitar intro to Sarah Smile or to hear the strings coming in on A Man Needs A Maid rather than listen to Rumer's versions. So by all means buy this as sort of sampler of 70s songwriters, but be prepared to be led elsewhere.
on 4 June 2012
I don't know exactly how to define what it is, but listening to this album/CD just made me feel so good!! It could be in how relaxed yet confidently Rumer interprets these songs and/or has managed to channel the best parts of Joni Mitchell, Dusty Springfield, and even Karen Carpenter and woven them into a wonderfully nuanced vocal tapestry. Her first album was great, but this album is, in almost perfect balance, a youthful twenty-something singing as if she was the being of an old soul...Adele may be the "Big Buzz", but Rumer is the real treasure... Just listen...
on 31 May 2012
From the heart-on-sleeve sentiments of "Home Thoughts from Abroad" to the intensely existential "Flyin' Shoes", "Boy's Don't Cry" selects a range of emotional songs from 1970s male songwriters, whilst also replaying the contrasting themes of the era. Jimmy Webb's "P.F.Sloan" mourns the absence of a 60s spokesman who prophesied the "Eve of Destruction", his vacancy a reflection of the failure of hippies to change the world. Did the 70s represent the arrival of that destruction with the continuing Vietnam war and republican Nixon in office? Isaac Hayes' "Soulsville" documents economic deprivation in black ghettos, whilst "Soul Rebel" positions Bob Marley as a figure of social conscience. Elsewhere, the concerns are more personal or intimate, such as Stephen Bishop and Paul Williams delivering romantic ballads, a mainstay of the decade. Less expected is the MOR conservatism of Gilbert O' Sullivan's "We Will". Gilbert's boy-next-door image contrasted sharply with rock's rebel image, a contrast he reinforced through Hallmark card-like odes to babysitting, family get-togethers and objections to women's lib. By placing O'Sullivan's (then-)popular brand of sing-a-long tomfoolery alongside Neil Young, Rumer presents a balanced return to the 70s, before rock history is rewritten by the guardians of hip.
Britain isn't short of women who can write fine songs and sing them brilliantly and in my view Rumer may be heading into the same sort of league as Thea Gilmore, Adele, P J Harvey and their ilk, so I'm a little sorry that she chose to make cover versions of 70s songs for this second album because she can write great stuff of her own and I don't think that some of the material here is up to her standard. That said, she performs it all wonderfully and the album as a whole is an engaging listen with some absolutely terrific highlights. It's very well produced and the overall sound is great - often making Rumer sound *exactly* like Karen Carpenter, which is just fine by me. Her silky tone, hint of vibrato and perfect phrasing do all these songs proud.
You may well not share any of my reservations. Part of the problem for me is probably that I was there in the 70s when all these songs were first released and some of them carry a lot of baggage for me. I have always hated the schmaltz of Gilbert O'Sullivan's `We Will' and `A Man Needs A Maid' was my least favourite song on Harvest, for example. However, `PF Sloan' and `Home Thoughts From Abroad' are absolutely magnificent here and the rest of the material is varied, generally good and superbly performed.
So...I think it's a matter of whether you like the songs. If you do, you'll love the album - it's the loving product of a very fine musician performing superbly.
on 31 May 2012
Rumer has an amazing voice and the more I listen to her new album the more I am transported back to a magical time of the 70s
The album has a wonderful warmth to it , the tracks grow on you more every listen and the melody remains long after the song and in my opinion is reminiscent of the Carpenters Horizon album
The voice and production are 1st class and all songs seem to be sung effortlessly and emotively bringing immense pleasure to the listener
Rumers voice is very similar to Karen Carpenters and I know she may get tired of this comparison but I personally could not imagine a bigger compliment to give a female singer
I believe Rumers voice is a breath of fresh air in the current market far from all the screeching and voice acrobatics that most female singers are recording today
An excellent album for late evenings dim the lights and let the music wash over you and ease all your worries away
on 19 June 2012
Rumer mentioned in her St. James Church concert that she is working on an album of new material which will be released at the end of 2012, but she didn't want to keep her fans waiting so she released this album over 70s cover songs: "Boys Don't Cry".
This album definitely is a slow-burner. It is not as instantly-catchy as I found her first album "Seasons of my Soul" was, so I implore you to repeat the album a few times for it to become enjoyable. It definitely wasn't a smart commercial move for Rumer to release an album of obscure covers for her sophomore album, but I appreciate this album was a gift for her (growing!) fanbase. Cover Albums only sell well once an artist has an established fan-base, so I doubt this album will be lighting up the Charts. But, I imagine that Rumer had to fight hard with her Record Company to get the OK to release this album...so kudos to her for not "selling-out" and releasing some AutoTune mainstream crap featuring LMFAO!
Rumer's first album had a more 70s Carpenters influence, but this album almost has a country-twang to most songs...and Rumer uses her higher vocal range on songs like "Sara Smile" which Karen Carpenter never would have done. I am glad Rumer is not trying to be a Karen sound-a-like on this album...but rather she is developing her own voice and style. If you can find Rumer's live version of "This Masquerade" you will see that Rumer doesn't sing like Karen Carpenter at all. The album production and over-dubbing are similar to Carpenters-style...but Rumer uses her higher singing register more frequently on this album.
The stand-out tracks on "Boys Don't Cry" are "It Could Be The First Day" which would have been a great album opener, instead of "P.F. Sloan". "Be Nice To Me" is a sweet song with a simple melody. "Travelin' Boy" sounds very much like the Carpenters song "Hideaway". The line "I won't say that I'll be back again/'cause time alone will tell" sounds exactly like the line from that Carpenters track: "I'll save my pennies for a rainy day/but where can I buy another you". The bonus track "Soul Rebel" has instrumentation like The Eagles song "Tequila Sunrise". It's a cosy (almost sexy!) campfire type sing-a-long song which Rumer sings effortlessly. "A Man Needs A Maid" sounds like a misogynistic song title, but Rumer sings the lyrics to this Neil Young tune very articulately and intimately.
My absolute favourite track on the album is "We Will", originally by Gilbert O'Sullivan! It is a very un-assuming song with a subtle melody that you could miss on the first listen...but once you catch it, the earworm gets stuck in your head! It is a beautiful song that tells a story...three little vignettes about life: a mother telling her children to go to bed, a visit from Uncle Frank and Auntie May, and kids planning a soccer game. The original O'Sullivan version is a bit schmaltzy because he used a children's choir to sing the (brief) chorus...but Rumer sings her entire version and it is a tear-jerker. I am not sure if the British slang featured in the song would be understood by American fans...but it is a very realistic song that Rumer casually and effectively floats through.
My only disappointment is that some of the best cover versions Rumer has sung did not end up on this album. I urge you to seek out Rumer's version of "Welcome Back". Yes, it is the theme to a cheesy 70s TV show starring John Travolta...but her interpretation is just so catchy and joyous. It really should have been included on the album because it isn't a morose ballad like most of the album tracks. She also did a gorgeous version of "Moon River" which was flawless...but sadly that didn't make the cut (Although "My Cricket", which is on this album, sounds similar to "Moon River"). Rumer also posted her cover of Randy Newman's "Marie" on Facebook and it is such a shame that didn't end up on the album, as she nails it! Hopefully, it surfaces as a B-Side soon.
Some of the cover version are a bit disappointing. Nothing to do with Rumer's vocals...but rather the song selection. "P.F Sloan" has a repetitive and droning hook, but I can understand why it was released as a lead single, as it is the song on this album that has the most percussion+beat to be radio-friendly...but, I find the "No-n-n-no-n-no-n-no-no-no-no" irritating. I am not a fan of "Soulsville" either because it sounds like something Joss Stone would try to sing (the whole "white-British-chick-trying-to-sound-like-a-black-gospel-singer). "Home Thoughts From Abroad" is song about missing your lover, which literally uses the chorus "I miss you"...a bit too uninspired.
While I appreciate Rumer selecting obscure album tracks instead of standard cover songs...honestly, sometimes there is a reason certain songs weren't released as a Single in the first place and why some songs just stayed album tracks. Some of these songs were "filler" album tracks back then...and they are still "filler" album tracks now. I have listened to "Brave Awakenings" , "Just For A Moment" and "Andre Johray" about 10 times each, and while Rumer's voice is on-point, the melodies are subtle...almost TOO subtle to be catchy enough to make me want to hit the Repeat button.
Honestly, I am more excited about the next album of original Rumer songs to be released at the end of this year...but this album is pleasant enough to pass the time. I strongly recommend getting the Deluxe Version...as the four Bonus Tracks are better than some of the album tracks.
on 2 June 2012
It's an interesting diversion and approach for her second album to produce an album of solely covers - but boy does she do them justice!
A fantastic follow up to Seasons of My Soul - what a voice this lady has! The musicians and production of this album only add to the quality. Completely addicted. Great song choice too - what more can I say?!