James Blunt - one of the most successful British artists this decade - is back with his first album in 3 years. Armed with an arsenal of impressive new songs, he returns on September 17th with the eagerly anticipated `All The Lost Souls'. A dynamic, immaculate, back-to-basics LP of addictive melodies and distinctive vocals, it features 10 brand new tracks, including the rousing lead single `1973'.
The new album follows the multi-platinum, international Number 1 debut `Back To Bedlam' - the best-selling LP of the millennium - and is once again produced by Tom Rothrock. Instantaneous and hook-laden, it boasts several road-tested favorites, including `1973',
`Same Mistake' (which was performed before an audience of billions at Live Earth) and the dazzling `I Really Want You'.
Other highlights include the deftly captivating `Annie' & the blazing `One of the Brightest Stars'.
Recorded and mixed in L.A with his acclaimed live band - keyboardist Paul Beard, guitarist Ben Castle, bassist Malcolm Moore, and drummer Karl Brazil - `All The Lost Souls' is inspired by the iconic sounds of the `70s.
Sometimes it really would be easier to just walk away from something like this. Whatever is said in print makes no odds. A third world debt-ridding amount of copies will be shifted of this album by the man who remains either a paragon of 'sensitive' singer songwriting to his fanbase, or a piece of cockney rhyming slang to the rest of the world. This is the most depressing thing about All The Lost Souls: We can warn you, but will you listen?
Faced with a slew of angry Bluntophiles baying about the fact that we're snobs/haven't listened to the album more than once/don't understand his poor sensitive soul, what can you say? He's entirely capable of writing a tune. Two or three of these tracks are reasonably catchy and uplifting, in a Chris-Martin-on-an-off-day kinda way. But All The Lost Souls is actually an album that gets LESS effective with every listen. It's full of shallowness masquerading as insight.
Still, let's count the ways that 'Blunty' fails to please. Firstly the voice: an androgynous warble that has a limited emotive power over three minutes. After an hour of listening to it exclaim platitudes and clichés over plucked strings and Elton-lite keys, drowning kittens seems like a really fine way to spend the afternoon.
Secondly the lyrics: All The Lost Souls is presumably a paean to the heartbreaking sadness of human existence and the life-affirming power of James' words. But being urged by the posh ex-Army tyke to 'shine on' ("Shine On") and told that we're listening to 'the sound of my breaking heart' ("I Really Want You") frankly doesn't hold much water next to such inadvertently hilarious clunkers as 'Why don't you give me your love? I've taken a ship-load of drugs' ("Give Me Some Love"). Yeah, right!
The fact is that Blunt rode in on the first wave of a resurgence of olde worlde songcraft and sensitivity that now bursts at the seams with more promising talent. Why go for Blunt's dehydrated instant fix of heartache when you can luxuriate in the deeply moving work of a Jose Gonzalez or Ray LaMontagne? That's like preferring Babycham to champagne. Don't say you weren't warned ... --Jerome Blakeney
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