FEBRUARY 9, 2012 | 11:58PM
Even as her debut album, "Seasons of My Soul," starts to gain traction in the U.S., British singer Rumer ** is looking ahead not one but two albums into her future.
Next up, Rumer (real name Sarah Joyce) tells Billboard.com is a covers set called "Boys Don't Cry" that she's "just finished" and hopes to release in May. As the title indicates, it features "obscure covers from the 70s written by men," including tunes by Isaac Hayes **, RICHIE HAVENS, Tim Harden **, Paul Williams **, STEPHEN BISHOP, John Sebastian ** and others.
"I knew it was going to take a little bit of time to write the second record, and I didn't want to take too long to give some more music to people," Rumer explains. "And also it was a project I was really interested in doing. I love to learn and I love to discover music. There's nothing I love more than finding old songs and polishing them up and performing them. It's about passion for other people's work." Key to the concept, she adds, was that, "it's a selection of songs that weren't necessarily hits at the time but were interesting songs -- some political, some abstract. They're not the usual 'I love you, you love me, you broke my heart.' They're more interesting than that."
As for singing men's songs, Rumer contends she wasn't intimidated. "It's like folk music, where people just sing and don't change the gender," says Rumer, who co-produced the set with "Seasons of My Soul" collaborator Steve Brown and Jenny Muskett. "Judy Collins would sing 'Barbara Allen' and stuff like that. There's no need to change it, really."
As for her "Seasons of My Soul's" proper follow-up, Rumer is eyeing the early summer of 2013. She already has "four or five ideas and sketches" for new songs and says the album's title -- "Into Color" -- is indicative of the direction she hopes the music will take. "It's going to be a singer-songwriter album," Rumer predicts. "It'll still be warm and fuzzy, but if 'Seasons of My Soul' is blue, 'Into Color' is going to be yellow -- sunnier, more hopeful, happier. I tend to struggle with happiness and letting myself feel happy, so this is going to be a search for that, and by the end of the album I will hope to have found it."
While she has the future in focus, however, Rumer is also enjoying the developments of the present. After taking "Seasons of My Soul" gold in her homeland, Rumer watched the album hit No. 1 on the American iTunes chart -- "A huge surprise," she says -- the day after her appearance on CBS's "Sunday Morning." She wraps up a North American tour tonight (Feb. 9) in New York but expects to return again to continue building momentum across the pond.
"I'm glad to be able to perform to small and appreciative crowds because I never had the opportunity in the U.K.," Rumer notes. "I went straight from the radio to big, big, big theaters there. So it's fantastic for me to have an opportunity to go form town to town in small venues, meeting everybody. I'm more comfortable hustling than I am being successful, to tell you the truth."