Jamie Cullum Catching Tales

In case you hadn’t heard, Jamie Cullum is the biggest selling British jazz artist of all time. Yet, he hasn’t reached the same level of the fame in North America despite having a loyal following. His last album, Twentysomething, somehow hit a chord with audiences that might not ordinarily listen to jazz, although many jazz fans were upset at this young pretender. And that’s the real problem: Cullum tries a little too hard through. He loves talking about partying hard and promises some decent jazz tunes with bad boy lyrics that are meant to usher in his new and supposedly innovative take on what some might call a tired genre. But, naturally, it isn’t that easy and his music isn’t nearly as original or fresh as he might think. He comes across as a mix of Harry Connick Jr. and Robbie Williams, and despite being a likeable figure the music is bland and far too easy listening to be edgy or daring. The only track that comes close to sounding fresh is the opener "Get Your Way,” which benefits from beats and production from Dan the Automator. His own songs vary wildly in quality, and that is true of his taste in cover versions too. He tries to reinvent jazz standard "I Only Have Eyes for You” unsuccessfully while Doves’ "Catch the Sun” is turned into something rather good. Catching Tales is a remarkably safe album that, for the most part, is more pop than jazz. Moreover, this is the kind of music that despite its alleged attitude, even your mother will like. (Verve)