Friday, July 30, 2010 Single Review

Rumer - Slow
By Laura, Thursday 29th July 2010
The hotly-tipped Rumer will release her first single, 'Slow', on 23 August (Atlantic Records). Driven by a stop-what-you're-doing voice, 'Slow' is a smouldering, unrequited love song, and a tantalising taste of her self-penned debut album (due in the autumn). She will announce details of her first live dates shortly, having played beguiling sets at the likes of Glastonbury Festival and Hard Rock Calling.

An authentic and emotional songwriter, Rumer's non-traditional musical upbringing has shaped her classic yet contemporary sound. She was born and spent the very early years of her life in Pakistan (her father was the chief-engineer of the enormous Tarbela Dam). The youngest of seven children, living in an expat colony without TV or newspapers, Rumer and her family would often sing and write songs together. It is this folk tradition that she brought with her when the family relocated from this "otherworldly landscape" to the New Forest. There, she first saw - and became captivated by - the technicolour movie musical. "Ever since," she recalls, "I've always looked for that lilting, romantic melody. I basically wanted to write the soundtrack for Hedy Lamaar walking down that spiral staircase."

Lyrically, Rumer's songs draw on this rich and complex personal history. Her parents separated at the age of eleven, when it emerged that her biological father was in fact the family's Pakistani cook, with whom her mother had struck up a relationship. Years later, whilst singing for the indie band La Honda, Rumer leaned that her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
She swiftly moved back to the New Forest to be near her, living in a caravan in a wreckers' yard and teaching drama at a local college (despite a lack of qualifications). Her mother died in 2003, and Rumer, working as everything from a pot washer to a popcorn seller back in London, hit rock bottom. She sought refuge in a stately home in the countryside, living and working in what was essentially a commune, owned by a "charismatic, philanthropic baronet." It was in this colourful yet liberating environment that Rumer finally threw herself back into writing music.

'Slow', then, signposts a time when Rumer's luck finally started to change.
At an Open Mic night in Kensal Rise, she met, by chance, award-winning TV and musical composer Steve Brown. Perhaps Steve Brown hasn't led a life quite as turbulent as Rumer's, but anyone who's written songs for Harry Hill and featured in the Alan Partridge TV show 'Knowing Me, Knowing You' as band leader Glenn Ponder. well, it's quite a CV in itself. Brown quickly became Rumer's producer, and gradually, things began to fall into place. She was then found by her manager, when he posted a question not at all related to music on his Facebook page: "Who Is The Most Underrated Person You Know?"
Five separate people, none of whom knew each other, replied with the word 'Rumer'. Finally, in March 2010 - and after a decade of trying to catch a break - Rumer finally signed to Atlantic Records.

Rumer's debut album is a beautiful, autobiographical yet brilliantly universal record. 'Slow' is just a glimpse into an array of timeless, quality pop songs: see the soaring 'Am I Forgiven?', the ache of 'Healer', and the fragile beauty of 'Aretha'. And if you require any more validation of the talent on show, you could do worse than ask Burt Bacharach, who heard of Rumer through the grapevine, and was so won over that he flew her to California and asked her to write with him. "I cried with joy when I found out," she says. "If Burt Bacharach says you're good, you have to start believing it too."

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