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James Blunt

  • Back To Bedlam

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    James Blunt

    Back To Bedlam 6 ( 2004 )
    High / You're Beautiful / Wisemen / Goodbye My Lover / Tears And Rain / Out Of My Mind / So Long, Jimmy / Billy / Cry / No Bravery

    Marketing at major labels works in predictable ways. James Blunt is an excellent example of this, his history at a soldier ( Kosovo and Queens Guard ) gets the attention, an attempt to portray James Blunt as a tragic, lovelorn poet for the modern age. No mention of Harrow or Sandhurst then? No big focus on his privileged background? Well, obviously not, that's not the kind of thing that sells records. The choice of artwork, the direction of his videos, the choice of collaborators. James Blunt has been labelled a singer/songwriter, which I suppose he is, but major-label tampering has taken place. Professional song-writers including the likes of former Robbie Williams collaborator Guy Chambers assist James Blunt with his tunes. The lyrics are all written by James Blunt, although that's hardly anything to boast about. 6th form rhyming standards are strictly adhered to, bed/head, that kind of rhyme. The imagery the lyrics try and conjure up is decidely poor given the stories James Blunt must surely have to tell, living the kind of live his biographical details tell us he has done. So, it's a packaged product, then? Well, yes, although i'm not against packaged music to go as a general rule. The production line of Motown in the 60s ended up mutating and producing many fine and true genuine artists of worth. Perhaps in a few years and albums down the line, James Blunt will also be considered an artist of true worth? Because for now, i'm not sure i'd rate him that highly based on 'Back To Bedlam' alone. For one, the albums first release dates back to 2004. He's currently touring America in support of 'Your Beautiful' topping the charts over there, so don't expect a new album before 2007. Three year gaps between releases when you've only released one LP? That's not really going to help James Blunt long-term. The runaway success of 'You're Beautiful' will also probably hamper his long-term potential and hang like an albatross around his neck. We've seen this kind of situation happen all too often before.

    'You're Beautiful' hardly needs describing, you're bound to have heard it already. It's a simple song with simple sentiments that uses the word 'beautiful' often enough to be irritating. Lead track 'High' is likeable enough, although barely makes a lasting impression, which is perhaps the key to James Blunt's success. Songs that immediately make sense and are hummable, although have absolutely nothing of very much substance going on behind them. There are a couple of songs with more depth, 'Goodbye My Lover' is genuinely affecting reducing James Blunt to purely voice and piano, a move which works well. The song comes across as being honest and comes across with genuine feeling. The final two tracks on a second side of an album packed with ballads continues with ballads, although gives us an actual gem or two. 'Cry' and 'No Bravery' don't deserve simple dismissal by elitist musical snobs, neither do they deserve to sit alongside the trite and smugly irritating likes of 'High' and 'You're Beautiful'. So it goes, that's life. All in all, i'm declaring this album a '6' and a work by an artist i'd like to see grow. Whether he manages to or not only time will tell.

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    Readers Comments

    finchy finchy63@hotmail.co.uk
    I hate james blunt. god i do. the review is marginally accurate, some songs are hummable. but i cannot enjoy listening to a CD when i know that a queer talking camp ex-public schoolboy is whining them. if james blunt was a likeable guy, then maybe id enojoy it more. but he isnt...and i dont...so 6 is not justified, id give it a 3 on just the basis that blunt is a prick. i do agree, however, that when an artist has one massive song (youre beautiful) then everything they do after is compared directly to that song, and therefore hindering any further success. so dotn expect jamesy boy to be around in 4 years. ciao

    Dan dperris@laingorourke.com
    I got a copy of this ablum from my sister for my birthday - She got it over the internet beforeit had been released properly in the UK. Normally my sister has very good musical taste,... However, I think this is 3rd rate David Gray at best. An Irish mate of mine recently told me that he considered James Blunt the English Damien Rice! I did not agree - surely that mantle belongs to Stephen Fretwell. All in All I think James Blunt songs are boring, over sentimental garbage. 5/10 tops!

    Mike Thompson drthompson@btopenworld.com
    The title of the CD hints at post traumatic stress syndrome? Far from it. The press have been unfair to a talented singer/songwriter who will stand the test of time. A hero to have stood for freedom and who now fights a new battle against the mediocrity of girls bands with no vocal range and stick thin booty shaking dance moves to tantalise teenage boys with money from a paper round. 'High' is a good opener and lets us know accoustic is back! 'You're beautiful' is elegant, catchy, and reminds us that James saw his ex-girlfiend on a tube. Bet she has big regrets now! kerching. A song that we can all sing along too. 'Wisemen' who buy a semi by the sea. Watch out for coastal erosion. Excellent start with just the right pace. Lyrics suggest he may have been influenced by Morrissey with his comments on shallow people looking to impress. 'Goodbye My lover' might help others to get over the break up of a relationship. A brave song which lays his soul bare. 'Tears and! rain' is an intelligent song which the Bee Gees should do a cover of! 'Out of my mind' is best in the middle. 'So long Jimmy' has great rhythm and catchy chorus and is a good one for the live act. 'Billy' is the kind of song which will make a good single. 'Cry' is instantly rescognisable as a James Blunt song which builds into the stadium filling chorus. This is a good one for Westlife to cover. 'No bravery' tugs at the heart strings and tells us of the pain of warfare from one who knows. As Gun 'n Roses once said, what's so civil about war anyway? Keep making beautiful music James and ignore the critics. Album sales tell you all you need to know. I suspect this is not important. An album full of great lyrics and a sound which is better than Keane. The lead singer of Iron Maiden went to public school but he wasn't given a hard time about it despite having long hair. Stop the envy and do something with your lives!

    chris chrisfret2004@yahoo.co.uk
    Agree with you adrian, its definitely manufactured and that kind of detracts from the whole experience - but at least the in-writers have prodjuced a few decent songs for blunt.youre beautiful is a classic whoever wrote it!overall tho its a very 21st century singer sonwriter record - promising but music lite for the plastic superficial generation.6/10

    John john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    Having read Adrian's review, I'm inclined to agree. A lot of people have rather naively (or cunningly) branded Jimmy boy as an "alternative" to manufactured musical acts, as if he is somehow different, but, realistically speaking, he is just from a different section fo the same production line. Music for soulless tabloid radio stations to play, when they're not playing Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay, The View, U2, etc. Mike's comments above are interesting. By all means he has a right to like James Blunt, but don't assume people are criticising James because of "envy" as you put it, that's on a par with saying an artist is brilliant because they happen to sell a lot of records!!! Try and shape your arguement around something more original than accusations of jealousy!!!

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    this page last updated 10/03/07

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