[center]James Blunt, All the Lost Souls[/center]
Ever since the release of his debut album in 2004 and it’s tediously overplayed single ‘You’re Beautiful’ James Blunt has been the artist that everyone loves to hate. Whether you see it as a series of suicidal dirges or the bittersweet laments of a fallen angel, the fact remains that his own unique brand of music proved extremely successful. And unique it certainly was, with an unmistakable vocal style. This remains the case with ‘All the lost souls’, which is instantly recognisable as his work.
The opening track and single ‘1973’ is relatively upbeat, with some catchy lyrics and chirpy muted guitars that almost give it a hint of disco. It’s unashamedly pop-rock, but the overall result is pretty effective. The ensuing tracks sustain the old formula of mid tempo piano or acoustic guitar led ballads. There is some fine lyricism and Blunt’s voice retains its trademark sound, but musically there is little to move it on. All the tracks fall within a narrow range of tempos and the majority are sung at a more or less fixed pitch. As a result, the rhythm accompaniment tends to follow a fairly set formula too and in particular Blunt’s extensive use of capos on acoustic guitars leads to a distinctive sound, but one that does not vary dramatically from track to track. It seems he has fallen into the classic singer-songwriter trap of clinging to a comfort zone compromising of a familiar pitch, rhythm and tempo. The guitar part to ‘Carry You Home’ for example is virtually indistinguishable from the infamous ‘You’re Beautiful’ on ‘Back To Bedlam’. In isolation, the songs are all reasonably accomplished, but Blunt’s style is as relentless as it is distinctive and the potential highlights all too often get lost within the onslaught.
The album is competent enough to ensure James Blunt is not consigned to the one hit wonder pile. However it neither seems to match the standard of songs in ‘Back to Bedlam’ nor clearly present any new musical direction. He remains a talented and distinctive songwriter, but his formula desperately needs something new to avoid stagnation.
Written for UKEvents.net by Chris Pickering
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