I’m quite sure that Momentum is Jamie Cullum’s best album but that doesn’t mean I’m all that enthused by it or even close to enamoured with it. The only reason I know there are/were other Jamie Cullum albums is because of my past life as a retailer, bagging up all the best and worst music for the best and worst customers.
And in the early 2000s Cullum burst onto the scene with Twentysomething (he’d made two albums before it, but that was the one that announced him) and he was like Harry Connick Jr wearing a key-chain; heck he was more like a singing Jamie Oliver if anything. Just a tiny hint of phoned-in/phoney swagger and plenty of hair product: Plenty chipper love, bit cheeky! That sort of thing.
Some smartass labelled him a jazz singer and that offended the purists and baffled the pin-up keeping, pop-loving kids that took to his sound.
Since then, well, he’s made a lot of puke-inducing music and at best he’s aimed for innocuous.
Those albums you can’t thoroughly revile and know you could never ever love – that’s the purgatory that reviewers face, and we front up to it far more than the general punter ever has to, because, well, it’s our job. It’s a part of the gig.
So I listened to Momentum – a few times. I kinda laughed off the shut-up-I’m-being-serious-not-ironic (sincere) reading of the Willy Wonka song, Pure Imagination. I thought the cover of Love For Sale no great sacrilege (beyond being written as Love For $ale) and the dramatic ballad, Save Your Soul, better than anything Michael Buble has ever done (is that even a compliment?)
I could tolerate this in the background I guess. But now I’ve given it the requisite listens and written more than two paragraphs I look forward – hugely – to never hearing it again. No, he’s not the enemy. Not at all. But he’s also kinda shit, kinda daft, kinda pointless, kinda soppy, soft, wet and naff.
Still, he’s made his best album. And he’s unlikely to ever improve on it. I’m absolutely sure of that.