New York City, baby.

Monday, January 03, 2005

10. Jamie Cullum: Twentysomething

Sure, I could have started out with a sexier, cooler selection. But why pick an album that didn't truly light my Arcade Fire. If I learned anything in 2004 it was that life was too short to run away from yourself. And so it is Mr. Cullum, a scratchy-voiced Brit who resembles a Hobbit, who starts off the list. Why he succeeds on this album, despite how easy it would be to write him off as a jazz-pop cheezeball, is that he's so comfortable in that role. A kindred spirit to Billy Joel, you can hear the unpretentious fun he's having as he whips off a zany number like some pseudo-intoxicated lounge singer in a smokey West End bar. And like Papa Piano Man, he contemplates complex, bittersweet emotions with an attention to honesty. Sure, Cullum is not going to get a kiss from Ultragrrrl anytime soon, but let's give the guy some credit, covering a Radiohead song is the kind of move that only a dude with loads of talent and just enough disarming charm can pull off well.


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