Though jazz fans will surely lament its unapologetic pop leanings, Jamie Cullum’s latest, his sixth, is as good a collection of dance-floor-friendly fare as you’re likely to hear this year. The former Brit wunderkind is now the father of two and has inched into his 30s, but he’s lost none of his keen ability to capture the twentysomething zeitgeist. That slightly younger generation’s social mores and ills, and the fierce intensity of its heartache, remain Cullum’s fodder of choice, unspooled across such infectiously head-bobbing cuts as “The Same Things,” “Edge of Something,” “Take Me Out (Of Myself)” and “Everything You Didn’t Do.” The cleverness with which he can now serve as sage narrator of—rather than participant in—such material is best realized in the revenge-fueled “When I Get Famous,” presented without an ounce of irony. Slick and sharp, Momentum is aptly titled, mapping Cullum’s progression from sneaker-clad powder keg to maestro of baroque mini-dramas.
But Cullum hasn’t entirely abandoned his jazz roots. One of two covers is a stunningly slowed and clouded “Pure Imagination.” The other, produced by hip-hop mix-master Dan the Automator and featuring rapper Roots Manuva, is a pounding reconstruction of “Love for Sale” that exposes the dark heart of Cole Porter’s lyric while pointing to the promising future of hybrid vocal art.
Fully worth the investment is the deluxe, double-disc edition which, in addition to the pop-saturated title track (oddly not included on the single disc), includes a terrific, burlesque-house treatment of “Comes Love” and six tracks recorded live at Abbey Road, a more straight-ahead “Love for Sale” among them.