James Blunt doesn't write and record music to please his critics. Instead, his intended audience is fans of classic singer-songwriter pop. The cultural descendents of those who bought millions of albums by James Taylor, Carole King, and Cat Stevens are drawn to and well served by the music of James Blunt. This second album smoothes out rough edges present on his debut Back to Bedlam but sacrifices little in the melodic and reflective qualities that endeared him to millions of pop fans around the world.
Vocals Are Now Gimmick Free
James Blunt's first album Back to Bedlam focused too much on the other-worldly, quavery quality of Blunt's high falsetto. It was this element more than any other that gained initial attention and later annoyed his detractors. On this second album the vocals, while still uniquely James Blunt, are toned down to become one of the other elements in the mix. That can reduce the sonic impact of some songs, but it ultimately makes the album more listenable.
Haunted By Death
Where lost love was a binding central element to many of the songs on Back to Bedlam, it seems that death in various forms haunts the tracks of All the Lost Souls. Memories of death in war prey upon the mind on "Same Mistake" and "I Really Want You." The possible death of a friend permeates "Carry You Home." The nostalgia of "1973" even sounds as if it is mourning a previous life lost.
Far from being morbid, these songs seem to amount to a heartfelt requiem for what has been lost. Muted piano chords and spare guitar underscore the pain shared and purged.
Top Tracks on 'All the Lost Souls'
- Same Mistake
- I Really Want You
- So Happy
Lush, Mellow Pop That Lingers
James Blunt is a master at manipulating dynamics to produce a lush, romantic pop sound that lingers in the mind. His first hit "You're Beautiful" introduced the style which can move from simple guitar and vocals to a full orchestration and back again multiple times in the same song. It is a style that brilliantly adds resonance to songs that may otherwise drift away in the memory.
If you were turned off by some of the gimmicky high drama and occasionally irritating falsetto on Back to Bedlam, but you are a fan of classic singer-songwriter pop and song structures favored by the likes of Billy Joel and Elton John, turn once again to James Blunt. Give All the Lost Souls an opportunity to sink in. I doubt you will be disappointed.