Jazz-Pop Singer Kicks Off Starwood's 'Hear The Music, See The World' Concert Series, Talks Follow-Up to '09's 'The Pursuit'
J amie Cullum is "in the trenches" of recording his sixth studio album, a follow-up to 2009's "The Pursuit." The 32-year-old singer, musician and host of BBC Radio 2's "Jamie Cullum With The Best of Jazz" was back in the States for the first time in a long while Friday for a private performance at Miami's St. Regis Bal Harbour to kick off a new concert series for Starwood Preferred Guest program called "Hear the Music, See the World."
Known for mixing contemporary jazz ("Twentysomething") piano-driven singer-songwriter pop ("All At Sea") with standards ("Blame It On My Youth," "Just One Of Those Things") and pop covers (Pharrell's "Frontin," Rihanna's "Don't Stop The Music"), Cullum says the new project will be "slightly more focused" than "The Pursuit," which he nevertheless called his "favorite of all the albums I've made so far."
"I've written most of the songs now, so the writing part is done. There should be a few standards on there as well," Cullum said on the phone from Miami. "I can't escape the fact that I love to include all elements. If you listen to the most modern pop records, like the new Rihanna record for example, in a lot of ways it's every kind of genre out there. There's elements of rock, hip-hop, and dance. So in that sense it's like a pop record it does embrace many different styles. I think I'm trying to not overthink things and make anything too elaborate."
It's also too early to determine which pop song he might cover in his live show or on the next record, though Cullum's playlist is quite full as of late. He's been spending a lot of time listening to Rufus Wainwright's new "Out of The Game," as well as Shuggie Otis' "Inspiration Information." Elsewhere, "I've been listening to the new Bon Iver record a ton -- that really just rewards repeat listening. I have been listening to the new Squarepusher record, Regina Spektor. There's a U.K. band that are friends of mine called The Guillemots that just put a new record out that I love. Perfume Genius. The new Usher single. Youth Lagoon."
Cullum hopes to spend more time in the States in the coming months, having taken some time off to get married to model Sophie Dahl and raise their new daughter Lyra, born last March. Family and fatherhood seems to be dominating many of Cullum's upcoming projects - "I'm writing all sorts of things… a best man's speech for a wedding next week. I've also just planted a vegetable garden at home. So I've got a few things in the pipeline," he says.
And with his 33rd birthday coming up this August, Cullum is now squarely in the 30-something category -- a detail not lost on fans of the title track from his 2004 breakthrough "Twentysomething."
"I thought I wouldn't sing it after I turned 30, but I get so many messages on Twitter saying 'That song makes so much sense to me,'" he says. "I think it's great that the song however irrelevant it is to me is still relevant to people. That's the great thing about songwriting, isn't it? It doesn't belong to you, it belongs to the people."
Cullum's performance marked the first stop in Starwood's planned nine-concert series. Upcoming gigs include Daughtry at Aloft in downtown Dallas (June), Ben Folds Five at Westin New York at New York's Grand Central (October) and a DJ set by Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation in Santiago, Chile (November.) "We're always looking to reward our members with experiences that play to their unique passions and that they cannot access anywhere else," said Mark Vondrasek, senior vice president -- distribution, loyalty and partnership marketing for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. "Together with Live Nation we've curated nine distinctive experiences that allow our members to select the hotel brand, destination, and genre of music that resonate most with them and their entourage."