While it isn’t exactly an “audiophile” recording per se (it is a bit compressed and “produced” sounding), Rumer’s impressive debut album Seasons Of My Soul also impresses on vinyl. Released on the Atlantic label, the 180 gram vinyl is flat and quiet. Sonically, it adds a layer of warmth to the sound that complements the musical content perfectly. The unique LP packaging (which Rumer had a hand in designing) is a work of art in itself: the jacket is a wonderfully heavy gatefold with a photo album motif in the middle, giving a personal visual touch to the personal songs on the album. The album’s sleeve is also a nice paperboard with lyrics and more images on both sides. Very nice!
Musically I may be a bit late to the game (it’s hard to keep up with all the music out there), but this album is very impressive on many levels. It is a debut album, but it has the feel of an album from a much more accomplished artist. Rumer certainly had paid her dues before being signed to a major label to release this album–music was prevalent in her family while growing up, and she took a few stabs at performing and recording before finally catching the “big time.” The level of musicianship, composing and performance she puts forth is amazing; I am surprised she was not “discovered” sooner.
The hit on this album is “Slow,” an infectious slower-tempo song where Rumer admonishes herself to slow down in a relationship so she doesn’t “burn it out,” as apparently had happened with some of her own personal relationships. ”Aretha” tells the tale of a schoolgirl confiding in Aretha Franklin, whose music she plays on her headphones, while being somewhat overlooked by others who are preoccupied elsewhere. ”Thankful” is her song of giving and receiving thanks in life: “I’m alive and I’m thankful,” and the song is full of personal imagery relating to points in her life. Many of the songs on the album have this personal and emotional touch, giving it a rare sincerity you rarely find in vocalists and composers today. The personal photo album motif in the LP’s art certainly reflects the music inside.
At this writing, however, her album still has not been released in the US, which is a shame, given all the attention it has received in the UK. The vinyl is harder still to find: this copy came via Amazon.UK. Ordering direct via Rumer’s site (which ties into the main Warner Music site) is expensive–shipping costs almost as much as the record! The CD is readily available as an import from all the major online retailers such as Amazon. Rumor has it (no pun intended) that her second album will be released in early 2012, which we hope will coincide with a lengthier US tour to promote her work. It really deserves it! Her work even impressed Burt Bacharach, who invited her for a visit!
And now, to wrap this up, let’s get that 500-pound gorilla in the room taken care of. Numerous accounts in the media have claimed that she is reminiscent of Karen Carpenter. Does she sound exactly like Carpenter? No. But, you can tell that Rumer took a lot of inspiration from Carpenter’s vocal style, as she has stated in interviews. They sing in a similar register but every so often, you hear an inflection that gives you goosebumps, reminding you of some of Karen Carpenter’s most memorable vocal moments.
This music grows on you, and lingers. It’s touching. And it’s one of the best albums I’ve listened to this year. I’d highly recommend this on the music alone; just keep in mind that the vinyl version is only ten tracks long, and the one available CD version has 13 tracks, including a sumptuous cover of Bacharach’s “Alfie.” Buy both! The vinyl is definitely a keeper, but the CD will give you additional tracks. There are also some tunes available as downloads, which are worth seeking out. Enjoy!