Near the end of her recent concert at the Hollywood Masonic Lodge, the British singer Rumer (Sarah Joyce) told the audience that “there are billions and billions and billions of amazing people in the world, and hardly any evil people. It’s just that we hear about them more often.”
That assessment is reflected in Rumer’s music, which is determinedly optimistic.
She reminds us that seeing the good side of life is a choice.
Introducing a song with the question “are any of you divorced?,” the singer proceeded to fool her listeners with a story told from the point of view of the partner who thinks splitting up would be a dumb idea.
She closed her set with “I am Blessed,” which repeats the title some 25 times. Rumer’s songs provide a heartfelt counter to the cheap and easy cynicism of our wired world. She conveys the message in a voice that’s as fresh and sweet as mist on a mid-June morning.
Rumer’s up tempo numbers evoke the charm and spirit of the pop sound that emerged from Southern California in the mid-1960s, exemplified by the Yellow Balloon, Sun Rays, Jan and Dean, and the Association. This British singer, born in Pakistan, owes a lot to Southern California. It’s a debt that she’s paid back with interest.
In 2012, Rumer recorded the song “P.F. Sloan,” which was written decades earlier by Jimmy Webb.
As a result, she met Sloan, the composer of several brilliant songs from the 1960s that became hits for other artists.
The two became good friends. Last fall, they played a few gigs together in London. Now, it was L.A.’s turn.
Sloan, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar, performed a short set of his own songs, including “You Baby,” “Eve of Destruction,” “Secret Agent Man,” and “Let Me Be.” Though these hit singles featured a jangly folk-rock sound, they lost nothing in Sloan’s slowed-down interpretations, aimed at a mature audience.
The treat was hearing Sloan perform “New Design,” a song he wrote in 1968 that Kenny Rogers later recorded.
This emotive ballad, inspired by meeting a woman whose boyfriend was leaving to serve in the military, demonstrates that Sloan still had it in 1968, even if the record business didn’t necessarily think so.