Rumer: Seasons of My Soul

Rumer and sigh: British songwriter's inspired debut arrives on American shores not a moment too soon.


Seasons of My Soul

Label: Atlantic
US Release Date: 2012-01-25
UK Release Date: 2010-11-01

Rumer caused more than a little stir in England when this album emerged in 2010’s fading light. Jools Holland and Elton John were early converts and Burt Bacharach himself has also waxed enthusiastic about the newcomer. Of course, elder statesmen singing a younger artist’s praises does as much for the profile of the former as it does for the latter; thus, the real question, at the end of the record, is this: Is it any good? The answer is, resoundingly, this: Yes.

Rumer’s gained comparisons to Karen Carpenter, and while those hold weight, the other spirit presiding over most of these 11 tracks (save “Goodbye Girl”) is none other than Dusty Springfield. Seasons Of My Soul shares the spirit and spark heard on Dusty In Memphis but has even more depth. Having written or co-written––and rather beautifully at that––all but one of the songs here, Rumer shows a remarkable––and remarkably pure––emotional range.

There’s plenty of springy ‘60s sounds, including “Am I Forgiven?”, one of the many here that would not have sounded out of place on classic AM radio, or “Take Me As I Am”, which has what is arguably the best vocal performance across the 11 songs. “Aretha”, meanwhile, isn’t so much an artist-to-artist celebration as it is a tale about the healing power of music, chronicling the lonely life of a girl living in poverty whose main connection with the outside world is the Queen of Soul. If the listener doesn’t immediately identify with all the narrative details, Rumer makes us believe that we’ve lived in this girl’s skin and walked in her raggedy shoes by the time the final chord fades––the mark of an accomplished writer and performer to be sure.

Elsewhere, “Healer” never rises or falls in expected ways as the vocalist shows utter restraint in the choruses, under playing the emotions at critical moments and thus yielding maximum impact. The plaintive, jazz-inflected “Thankful” calls to mind Joni Mitchell circa For The Roses and is sure to become a standard for the current generation, as it’s deftly composed and performed with perfection. “Come To Me High”, a sliver of a song, at just under three minutes sounds like a hazy, prolonged kiss, a brief but memorable burst of intimacy and unadulterated emotions.

While the record maintains a strong sense of uniformity, it never lapses into monotony, thanks largely to the poetic turns of songs such as “Blackbird” and “Slow” but also Rumer’s consistently powerful performances which culminate in a singular and impressive artistic statement.

If there’s a weak moment here it may be “Goodbye Girl”, the David Gates composition, on which Rumer sounds perhaps the most like the aforementioned Karen Carpenter. It’s not that the track smacks of cloying sentimentality, as it can in less capable hands, but that it feels tacked on, ever-so-slightly but nevertheless significantly different than the original material––although not enough that it detracts from Seasons Of My Soul’s overall power.

It’s hard to know why this album and the artist behind it were so slow in coming to the North American market but surely there is a wise and waiting audience for this most unique and impressive talent. May her moment not be now but forever.





90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.


Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

A Lesson from the Avengers for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.


Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.


Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.


First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?


HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.


Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.


How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.


Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.


Paul Weller Dazzles with the Psychedelic and Soulful 'On Sunset'

Paul Weller's On Sunset continues his recent streak of experimental yet tuneful masterworks. More than 40 years into his musical career, Weller sounds as fresh and inspired as ever.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.