Since making her major label debut in 2010 with Seasons of My Soul, the artist known as Rumer (real name: Sarah Joyce) has made the case that elegantly-crafted adult pop can still be viable in the 21st century. Influenced by Burt Bacharach, Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Stephen Bishop, Jimmy Webb and Paul Williams, Rumer is possessed of a honeyed voice that’s most frequently been compared to Karen Carpenter on her three studio albums – Seasons, 2012’s Boys Don’t Cry (a collection of 1970s songs by Webb, Bishop, Todd Rundgren, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Townes Van Zandt and others) and 2014’s return to original material Into Colour. In between those albums, however, the Pakistani-born British artist has hardly been resting on her laurels. Rumer has always been a prolific performer, and seventeen of her best non-LP sides have been collected on a new, independently-released collection simply entitled B-Sides and Rarities.
Released through Rumer’s own Night Owl Music label, B-Sides naturally features many of her favorite composers. Burt Bacharach, whom Rumer celebrated in front of President and Mrs. Obama at the White House in 2012) is represented three times: with “Arthur’s Theme” (recorded for a 2014 BBC Radio 2 compilation, Sounds of the 80s), “Alfie” (from her 2011 EP Rumer Sings Bacharach at Christmas) and most excitingly, “Hasbrook Heights” – one of the quintessential underrated Bacharach melodies and performed here as a duet with Dionne Warwick. (Rumer and Dionne performed the song for 2012’s World Hunger Day at Royal Albert Hall in London.) Stephen Bishop, who co-wrote lead single “Dangerous” off Into Colour, duets with Rumer on his White Nights theme “Separate Lives” and as a writer is represented with the formerly online-exclusive bossa nova arrangement of the disco-flavored “Dangerous,” plus his Tootsie classic “It Might Be You” from the deluxe edition of Seasons of My Soul.
Rumer also pays homage to The Beach Boys (“The Warmth of the Sun”), Paul Simon (“Long, Long Day”), The Beatles (“Here Comes the Sun”) and composers Henry Mancini (“Moon River,” live on BBC Radio 2) and Andre and Dory Previn (“Come Saturday Morning”). From the soundtrack of the 2011 Rowan Atkinson spy comedy Johnny English Reborn comes the John Barry-evoking “I Believe in You,” penned and produced by “Eg” White. The international bonus tracks for Rumer’s most recent album, Into Colour, are also here: the aforementioned “Hasbrook Heights” and a rendition of Christopher Cross’ “Sailing” from the Japanese CD; and outtake “Frederick Douglass” from the U.S. (digital-only) version. Veteran artist Michael Feinstein joins Rumer on a live recording of the standard “That’s All” from NPR.
Longtime Rumer fans will note that she’s recorded enough material to make a Volume Two a very real possibility, with notable omissions here including her online single of John Sebastian’s “Welcome Back,” the wonderful “Some Lovers” from the Bacharach at Christmas EP; a number of other Bacharach songs performed on television and in concert (“What the World Needs Now is Love,” “A House is Not a Home,” and “Trains and Boats and Planes” with Sandie Shaw among them), “I Loves You, Porgy” from her NPR appearance, Percy Mayfield’s “Lost Mind” from Jools Holland’s 2014 album Sirens of Song, and more. Rumer has indicated that she hoped to include songs from her well-received appearance on Daryl Hall’s Live at Daryl’s House, but those songs – including a duet with her host of Hall and Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” – were unable to be licensed.
A quote from Hall neatly sums up Rumer’s appeal both as a soulful, introspective singer-songwriter and a premier interpreter of some of the greatest songwriters of our time: “I think her seemingly ‘smooth’ style frames a very passionate view toward life. More power to her.” Rumer embarks this April on a U.S. tour; B-Sides and Rarities will be available on her tour stops in an edition with exclusive artwork and a poster. The “standard” edition can also be ordered internationally at Night Owl’s website, below! Note that shipping to the U.S. is currently on the steep side, but Rumer has confirmed via her Facebook page that she is working to address that issue!
Rumer, B-Sides and Rarities (Night Owl Music, 2015)
- Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)
- Dangerous (Bossa Nova Version)
- Hasbrook Heights (with Dionne Warwick)
- Come Saturday Morning
- It Might Be You (Theme from Tootsie)
- Moon River (Live on BBC Radio 2)
- Separate Lives (with Stephen Bishop)
- The Warmth of the Sun
- Long Long Day
- Soul Rebel
- Here Comes the Sun
- Frederick Douglass
- That’s All (with Michael Feinstein) (Live on NPR)
- I Believe in You (Theme from Johnny English Reborn)Hasb