Rumer has announced plans for a brand new single, ‘P.F Sloan’, which will be released via Atlantic Records on May 21. It is the first taster from a new record, ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, which is due on May 28, but has already gone Top 10 on Amazon’s pre-orders.
‘Boys Don’t Cry’ follows the breakthrough success of Rumer’s debut album, ‘Seasons Of My Soul’, which has sold over a million copies, earned Rumer two Brit nominations and also saw her scoop the Mojo Award for Breakthrough Act. Still, she is in no mood to rest up. With sessions dating back to 2007 (before she was even signed) and completed amidst touring worldwide, Rumer has spent the last year or so quietly completing work on a new album, ‘Boys Don’t Cry’: a stunning collection of lesser-known songs from the 1970’s, all of which were originally sung by men.
And it is the mysterious ‘P.F Sloan’ – of the album’s first single, and opening track - who arguably unlocks the meaning of ‘Boys Don’t Cry’. Sloan was a huge songwriter in his own right throughout the 60’s, penning Barry McGuire’s ‘Eve Of Destruction’ and composing the riff that would go on to become the Mamas & The Papas’ ‘California Dreaming’. Desperate to sing his own material, however, Sloan gave it all up to record as a solo artist, but failed to sell any records. He disappeared into obscurity, only to be remembered by Jimmy Webb’s own song, ‘P.F Sloan’: one songwriter’s bittersweet tribute to another, documenting the costs of being a true artist. “It’s a song about the great writers who have been forgotten, or sidelined by a commercially-driven music industry,” summarises Rumer. “I think ‘P.F Sloan’ sums up the whole album, and I love the idea of it being on the radio in 2012.”
As ‘P.F Sloan’ demonstrates, by using her nascent intuition, and applying a mixture of detachment and interpretative nous, Rumer may be poised to cast a generation of songs into a new light. The cast of characters included across the record is nothing short of formidable, spanning the likes of Todd Rundgren, Townes Van Zandt, Ronnie Lane (and Ronnie Wood) and Tim Hardin. Even the more well-known artists – Leon Russell, Isaac Hayes, Neil Young – have had their relatively forgotten tracks re-imagined.
Outside of their original context, though, the songs of ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ have proved timeless, and timely. For as the recording process unravelled, Rumer realised that a lot of the stories contained in the record had deeper, more personal echoes for her. Clifford T. Ward’s ‘Home Thoughts From Abroad’ and Paul Williams’ soaring ‘Travelling Boy’ were both about “this idea of the musician away from home, and the nostalgia that comes with that.” Other tracks, albeit via another author, touched upon those pressures of the last year or so. Rumer rightly describes tackling these songs as “like going into the heart of darkness.” And like ‘Seasons Of My Soul’ before it, ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ is a gorgeous listening experience, but one that contains layers of emotional impact, which emerge upon every revisit.
Describing ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, Rumer summarises: “this project is about passion, and paying respect to other people’s work. I went on a journey and this music tells that story.”