From the string-latticed “Dangerous” to a piano-sculpted “Butterfly” and “Better Place,” the ballads on British chanteuse Rumer’s third album “Into Colour” are Bacharach-David-sophisticated, held together by her quiescent voice, reminiscent of vintage Dusty Springfield.
Though most of the songs were co-written with her arranger-producer and fiance, Rob Shirakbari, three were penned with Stephen Bishop, of “On and On” renown, whom she befriended – as she has other longtime idols Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Webb and P.F. Sloan.
Few listeners, however, could fathom the personal turmoil the 35-year-old singer – who appears in the Bay Area this week – endured to complete the record.
At first, Rumer, born Sarah Joyce, didn’t notice anything wrong. She chalked up rash decisions and embarrassing gaffes she had been making to immaturity: “Or being young and stupid,” she says. “But when I look back now, I think I was actually ill. And I couldn’t go to a traditional doctor, because my ailment was very mysterious – a combination of spiritual exhaustion and loss of soul, basically.”
After being diagnosed with clinical depression, bordering on bipolar II disorder, reclaiming her spirit wasn’t easy. Medication only made things worse.
To cleanse her system, Rumer enrolled in two separate English boot camps, where she was coached by drill sergeants in strenuous exercise programs.
“Then I did some horse healing. I worked with a lady who did some energy work with horses, which also helped,” she says. “I tried everything. I had a psychic hotline addiction that was so bad, I got banned. And finally, I said ‘I cannot survive another winter in England with my depression – I just can’t do it.’”
Salvation came from an unexpected source: California. Without knowing anyone, or even how to drive, she rented a room through Air BNB near Los Angeles’ artistic mecca, Laurel Canyon, owned by a former child actor and his film-producer wife.
She fit in with the family and the West Coast vibe so well, they moved her into her own eco-friendly trailer, where her head cleared and she began writing “Into Colour” in earnest.
“California was where I restored my spirit,” says the vocalist, who has since moved to Arkansas with her beau, where they’ve set up a posh home studio. “That’s where I really healed, and where my soul came back into my body.”
In retrospect, she views it as an actual near-death experience, which she was lucky to survive: “I reached that point where people just spiral and go down, and I felt like every cell in my body had collapsed,” she says. “But I feel really happy right now. And ‘Into Colour’ is my recovery.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Yoshi’s, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland
When: 8 p.m. April 21
Contact: (510) 238-9200, www.ticketfly.com