After Jamie Cullum’s Twentysomething you might have thought you knew what Cullum was all about, then only a few months later Catching Tales was released and a whole new Cullum emerged. The new album is a mixture of jazz covers and eclectic new songs. Cullum wrote ten of the fourteen songs on Catching Tales.

Often referred to as Sinatra with sneakers, Cullum is a multi-talented twenty-six year old British musician. When asked about his album Cullum answered, “People ask why I play jazz. It’s because you can take it to so many different places. You can embrace dance music, rock, pop music, classical, funk, everything…And I touch on all those things in this record.” Indeed he does.

The results of all this mixing are mixed. Catching Tales is a smorgasbord of jazz, pop, swing and even R&B, proving Cullum can do it all. Yet, when taken as a whole it’s difficult to classify the venture. That’s important, do you take Catching Tales to the gym on your iPod or use it as background mood-setting music for a romantic evening? Perhaps the only neutral place to listen to the album is in the car.

That’s not to say Catching Tales is not brilliant, it is. Cullum’s piano playing is pretty great. Catch a Cullum concert (currently touring in Europe) and prepare yourself to be dazzled by this kid and his piano. The show, which revolves around that piano, is nothing short of explosive.

Cullum’s voice is so versatile that it works in pop and jazz arrangements equally well. On the ballads “I Only Have Eyes For You” and “I’m Glad There Is You” his voice gives us what we expect, it’s all Sinatra, just a bit lighter. Yet, given the chance his vocal instrument can also deliver a broader range. Such is the case on the feathery light “7 Days To Change Your Life” where Cullum’s voice moves from cheeky fun to jazzy-skat without missing a beat. “London Skies” and “Photograph” are by far the most pop inspired of the fourteen songs. Cullum’s new arrangement for “Our Day Will Come” could easily win over a Ben Folds Five fan. It’s all very pleasing.

If your CD collection includes Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr. or Bend Folds Five, then Jamie Cullum’s Catching Tales is a requisite addition.

Click here to visit and hear sample songs from Catching Tales.