Dirrrty Pop Review: James Blunt – Back To Bedlam

The first word James Blunt sings on his album is “beautiful” and it is a very good description of the album as a whole. He released (on October 18th, a week after the album came out on Oct 11th) and made a video for the first track, High so presumably that’s his big selling-point song and it does that job well. I can really see him taking off in the album charts and getting a great deal of play on Radio 2, with the right promotion. His sound is somewhere between Kristian Leontiou and Jamie Scott and is marketed as such, but the first comparison that came to my mind was to Placebo’s lead singer Brian Molko. They really do sound alike.

The subjects of the songs range from love at first sight on a “subway train” to his experiences of war (James was stationed in Kosovo and protected the Queen and Queen Mother on horseback in his army career) and this variety is reflected in the styles of the lyrics, which are one minute poetic, the next filled with swearing and drug references! I was particularly suprised by the line in my favourite track (not for this reason alone, it is a really good song too!), Wisemen, “Came down from heaven, smoked 9 til 7, all the shit that they could find”. Another tracks I like is Billy, because it reminds me very much of Maroon 5.

The repetition in songs like Goodbye My Lover and Out Of My Mind annoys me a bit as they are otherwise great songs. His voice is unusual which is mostly a positive but it does get irritating at points such as the chorus of Goodbye My Lover. There are a few famous names involved, for example the track Tears And Rain which is co-written by Guy Chambers and has a reference to Dorian Gray (to remind us how intelligent and well read he is of course), and the final track No Bravery features 4 Non-Blondes member, popular songwriter and the person who ‘discovered’ James Blunt, Linda Perry on guitar. She even gets the first “thank you” on the sleeve. Also involved is Jimmy Hogarth, who has written with Sia, Amy Winehouse, Jamelia, Estelle, Beverley Knight and Tyler James, which should attract at least a few of you!

The two final tracks are very sombre and philosophical as they refer to his aforementioned experiences of war, with lyrics such as “I have seen peace, I have seen pain, resting on the shoulders of your name” and “Brothers lie in shallow graves, fathers lost without a trace, a nation blind to their disgrace, since he’s been here”. No Bravery is particularly sad, but it’s good to see him bringing up subjects most sensible pop stars avoid and not making a mockery of himself á la Lee Ryan.

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