Review Summary: Ladies and gentlemen, Mr James Hillier Blount - also known as James Blunt (to his fans) and just plain blunt (to the rest of us).
ARGH, screw it. You know what - I think I've just got to hand it to James Blunt, for the man has just about proven himself to be one of the most persistent artists in modern pop music. I find myself saying this because Some Kind of Trouble
actually represents his third attempt at trying to pass a hookless pop-rock album as worthwhile music. What's worse, it is neither inventive nor altogether different from his past works - in fact, it picks up exactly
where All The Lost Souls
left off, and immediately sets about making a right hash of things.
That being said, the initial signs were actually quite promising. In an interview for STV, Blunt declared that he was "tired of writing self-pitying songs...about poor old me", further adding that he personally desired to make songs that were "more optimistic". To illustrate his point, he singled out the song "Stay the Night" as an example of his apparent new approach to song-writing. If there was a point that Mr Blunt was trying to make then he actually made it quite well: the song in question is more than half-decent and reasonably enjoyable (although for maximum effect one should thoroughly attempt to ignore the shameless pilfering of lines from Bob Marley's "Is This Love" that occurs in the second verse). There is actual quality to be found in this number, which makes the eventual appearance of the rest of the album such a massive shame.
It only takes four minutes for Blunt to return back to his old haunts; hereafter, every song on Some Kind of Trouble
follows a similar - and dead boring - template. Harmless, inoffensive strumming? Check. Pedestrian drums? Check. Deeply uninspiring strings? Check. The same dripping piano to plague every other track? Double-check. There are rare occasions where Blunt tries to mix things up a little - there is an electric guitar solo on "Superstar", for instance. Yet, you can tell it's all the same, calculated risk, and that never once does Blunt truly intend to leave his comfort zone. After all the pointless instrumentation come the songs' verses - those half-assed partial hymns that serve as nothing more than a weak excuse to put a few guitar chords to. Yet, even their mind-blowing banality is overrun by the reincarnation of the quintessential James Blunt choruses; do feel free to sample a few: there's, "She is dangerouuuus, she is dangerouuuus, I'm sure (woah!)/And she's all dressed up and knocking at my door (woah!)," from "Dangerous". Then soon after there's the rather tasteless, "If time is all I have/I'll waste it all on you/Each day I'll turn it back/It's what the broken heart would do," courtesy of "If Time Is All I Have"; the whole charade is finally brought to an end with album closer "Turn Me On", which apparently thought going, "Why get complicated?/You know you want to turn me on/Why get complicated?/You know you want to turn me on" was mankind's best idea since sliced bread.
Stunning. And let's not forget that all this is done with a voice that sounds like there's someone directly below Blunt, having a go at squeezing each of his nuts in turn.
Honestly, one can't help but wonder if the man is even taking himself seriously - it may be a couple of albums too soon, but all the signs are that James Blunt is slowly turning into pop rock's version of Nickelback. However, unlike those crass Canadian rockers - who have openly admitted that they will keep on making music the way they do it as long as it sells - Blunt appears to truly believe in the merits of what he does, and it is quite a sorry sight to see him commit to the cause, then limp from piece to piece with all the grace of an upended dumpster truck. Truly, such fervour can only come if it has the benefit of support; it is thus reasonable to conclude that Mr Blunt is still getting his strength from a source other than his own free will. In other words: until that support base is eliminated, the world will remain doomed to endure similarly mindless dirge from a reasonably talented man - over and over and over again. Until hell freezes over.
Unfortunately, there's not much we can do against the buying power of mums and lovesick teenage girls, is there?
Some kind of trouble this is, indeed.