Rumer – Boys Don’t Cry (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
SOME may argue that releasing an album of cover versions for a sophomore release represents something of an easy option for Rumer. Yet appearances can be deceptive.
For while there is merit in that argument and it would certainly have been nice to hear more original material from this talented singer to prove that Seasons Of My Soul wasn’t a one-hit wonder, her latest LP is still a beautiful, often enchanting listen.
And it’s also clever in the sense that while the songs are cover versions, they are solid re-interpretations by virtue of the fact that all of the songs she has chosen were formerly sung by men.
What’s more, you could argue that Rumer’s Karen Carpenter-esque vocals befit the classic songs she has chosen almost perfectly. Hence, while you may recognise some (and that’s debatable), you probably haven’t heard them done this way before. And Rumer’s silky smooth, butter-melting vocals continue to be a spell-binding presence.
The highlight, for me, is album opener and former single P.F. Sloan, a wonderfully breezy, yet equally bittersweet lament about the mysterious PF Sloan, a huge songwriter in his own right throughout the ‘60s, who penned Barry McGuire’s Eve Of Destruction and composed the riff that would go on to become the Mamas & The Papas’ California Dreaming but who struggled to forge a singing career for himself when he decided to go solo. Indeed, he failed to sell any records and disappeared into obscurity, only to be remembered by Jimmy Webb’s own song, P.F Sloan: one songwriter’s bittersweet tribute to another, documenting the costs of being a true artist.
Elsewhere, her take on Todd Rundgren’s Be Nice To Me is impossibly beautiful, particularly during the chorus, while there’s a wonderful piece of slow-tempo Northern Soul in her rendition of Isaac Hayes’ Soulsville, which originally formed part of the soundtrack to Shaft.
There’s a wonderfully dusky piano ballad to be found on the impossibly sad The Same Old Tears On A New Background , a beguiling version of Art Garfunkel’s song, while Clifford T Ward’s little-known Home Thoughts From Abroad is tender, insecure (lyrically) and utterly enchanting. When she sings:, “and by the way, how’s your broken heart? Has it mended yet?” you’ll swoon!
Throughout the album, though, Rumer delivers these songs with confidence and huge emotional investment, meaning that you’ll want to stop and take the time to properly listen to the themes contained within.
Boys Don’t Cry is therefore a carefully selected collection of songs that are by no means a lazy choice or an easy one to pull off. If anything, Rumer surpasses expectations while continuing to underline her own brilliance in the process.
It’s a wonderful return from a genuinely intriguing artist.
Download picks: P.F Sloan, Be Nice To Me, Soulsville, The Same Old Tears On A New Background , Home Thoughts From Abroad