9 Feb 2012: Le Poisson Rouge New York
Rumer’s album Seasons of Soul was released almost 16 months ago in the United Kingdom, going platinum six times over, but only made its stateside debut this past January. To coincide with this release, Sarah Joyce (Rumer) embarked on a short North American tour beginning in L.A. on January 24th and then heading east. Describing these early stops on the tour, Rumer noted the crowds were somewhat dinky and unappreciative. But by the time she got to New York on February 9th to play Le Poisson Rouge, her shows were selling out. New York’s crowd (likely including ex-pats and tourists) was incredibly receptive to her music. The shift can likely be attributed to a single event, a piece on Rumer called “Britain’s Latest Singing Sensation” run January 29th on CBS Sunday Morning.
Unlike Adele, Britain’s presiding singing sensation who veers more toward soul and blues, Rumer has a classic folk / rock and jazz sound, and comparisons have been made to Carole King, Karen Carpenter and Joni Mitchell. Much of her album is perfectly attuned to the relaxed reverie of Sunday mornings shuffling about your cozy flat or over brunch, to the intimate stage of Le Poisson Rouge. With a three piece backing band, Rumer performed a charming, acoustic set built of songs from her album with a few covers for good measure.
Rumer’s dusky voice stilled the room. Nary a peep was heard during songs like “Slow” (the third song) or “On My Way Home”. Rumer bantered with the audience, telling them it was the percussionist’s birthday and dedicating the Sandpipers’ “On Saturday Morning” to a friend in the audience. She told a story about living on a hippie commune in the countryside and how her guitarist is polishing up her previous band’s tracks (they imploded) for eventual release on the website. When Rumer asked whether the crowd wanted to hear Elton John’s “Rocket Man” or Hall and Oates’ “Sara Smiles”, the audience demanded both. So Rumer performed the former immediately while saving the latter for near the end of the show. The biggest hit seemed to be “Aretha”, which received a call out from the audience and big applause, preceding Laura Nyro’s “American Dove”.
Prefacing her lovely song “Thankful”, Rumer recollected writing the lyric “forest of angels” without discerning its meaning. But eventually she pieced together the connection—her mother’s passing. Its tranquil lyrics serve as a meditation on life. The track also served to inspire the title of the album—Rumer characterized each verse to relate to a season. And so the seasons change.