Review Summary: James Blunt makes the same mistakes and by the end, I just can't hear the music.
One of the most naturally talented musicians I ever knew played trombone and sang tenor in the choir. On both instruments, he played with the schmaltz-iest vibrato I’ve ever heard in my life. Regardless, he mastered his craft of cheesy tone and managed to sight-read his way to all-state choir, band, and orchestra, first chair, three years running. In jazz band, he performed “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most”, a ballad with a trombone feature. It began in a style perfect for him, and he nailed it every time. Following that, it suddenly switched to double time swing and he had to improvise. Suddenly, he fell apart. He could play anything written for him, but when it was his turn to create, he either could not grasp it or just did not care. As indicated by his dropping out of college and successively delving into alcoholism and drugs, I vote for the latter.
This guy seriously and legitimately liked James Blunt, and why wouldn’t he" Blunt capitalized on pop culture with the simplest lyrics imaginable: “You’re beautiful/you’re beautiful/you’re beautiful/it’s true.” People simply fell in love with his “unique” voice, that tenor vibrato with unexplainable diction and the seeming easiness of his melodies. The women (and probably some men) swooned over his looks and seemingly innocent introspective qualities. For Blunt, writing the lyrics to his mega-hit “You’re Beautiful” could not have taken much work. While that song took America and the world by storm, making Blunt the first British artist since Elton John (for “Candle in the Wind”) to top the US charts. Afterwards, his success instead parallels David Hassellhoff’s musical career. He continues to top the charts in Europe but hardly scrapes America’s. Not to imply that America has superior musical taste than the rest of the world, but this gives me pride in my nation for just a fleeting moment.
All the Lost Souls
finds a thousand pictures of James Blunt to make one, called by one reporter “the best album cover in years,” a terribly inaccurate calculation, but it is better than Back to Bedlam
's. Unfortunately, the album itself fails to raise the bar in the same manner. It begins with “1973”, adding to the ever-increasing collection of bad songs titled with years, joining the ranks of Bowling for Soup’s “1985” and Bryan Adam’s “Summer of ’69.” While the verse survives solely on a fun yet repetitive bass groove, its chorus almost gets quieter rather than louder, and proves a pathetically anti-climatic chorus. The opening piano chord progression feels disjointed from the feel of the rest of the song, as it cries for a more fitting introduction. “One of the Brightest Stars” begins in the same manner, but the piano remains prevalent throughout the rest of the song. Here, the ending of the song feels awkward. It simply ends without rhyme or reason. Throughout the album, Blunt creates pop music without hooks, a fatal contradiction. “Give Me Some Love” at least attempts to create something catchy at the end of the song, but it comes off as a bad karaoke impression of “Hey Jude.”
The lyrical topics on All the Lost Souls
find James Blunt showing his true self. From lines like “Why don’t you give me some love/I’ve taken ***loads of drugs” and “So I set out to cut myself,” Blunt proves that his altered last name has more meaning than once thought. In “Annie”, he really stretches by mentioning the magazine NME in his lyrics. As he describes a girl he knew that wanted to become a celebrity and failed, he gives her some sort of “hope” with the line “Did it all come tumbling down, down/Will you go down on me"” Despite these few anomalies, the rest of the lyrics are easily predictable: cheesy love songs. “I Really Want You” is just as bad as it sounds, the main theme being “I really want you to really want me/But I really don’t know if you can do that.” Didn’t Cheap Trick already do this" To provide some variety, Blunt often relies on “wisemen” and “prophets” and other vaguely religious terms. By this point, it has gotten old. New tricks please.
Overall, All the Lost Souls
is the album everyone saw coming. There are no surprises (other than the lyrics about cutting himself) and nothing all that redeeming to take away from the listen. Blunt’s voice wears thin quickly, as if the constant airplay of “You’re Beautiful” hadn’t done that already. Musically, everything washes over apathetically and takes a step down, if possible, from Back to Bedlam
. Maybe he should make an album while he’s on ***loads of drugs.