Just like everybody else aged 15-30, I’ve heard, loved, hated and had drunken sing-alongs to James Blunt’s “Wisemen” and “You’re Beautiful”. That sums up my experience with the British singer/songwriter who burst onto the scene in 2005 with his debut album Back to Bedlam, so I can’t lay claim to being a supporter -- much less a rampant fan-girl. But nor am I a detractor of the Blunt man, and being somewhere in the middle ground offers the perfect perspective for reviewing his new disc.
All the Lost Souls immediately made its appeal to my soft rock soul when a quick run through revealed that almost every song fuses background piano with Blunt’s familiar nasally crooning. One of my favorite bands is soft rock act Counting Crows, who use plenty of piano on songs like “Anna Begins”, “Holiday in Spain” and “Colorblind”. I’m also a big fan of Coldplay, and in general, I love when piano pieces are properly implemented into songs.
When combined with the right voice and lyrics, a piano melody can add the perfect emotional touch that often pushes a tune over the top. Since there’s absolutely no denying the beauty of James Blunt’s voice, you can be sure that All the Lost Souls gets the recipe right on more than one occasion, which makes for an enjoyable listening experience.
The lead single “1973” is as catchy as anything Blunt’s produced thus far; a bouncy piano driven track that will undoubtedly induce an eye rolling reaction from those who’ll say it sounds exactly like his old stuff. But track number two, “One of the Brightest Stars” is a slower, more melodic track that again rides the sweet sound of a piano in showing the Blunt naysayers a bit of originality. However, the freshest sounding track on the disc doesn’t come until we hit number seven, “I Really Want You”; a quick but quietly emotional tune that shows off Blunt’s true vocal range and elegance, as well as his song writing capabilities with lines like, “They say a million people bow and scrape to an effigy of gold. I saw life begin and the ship we’re in and history unfold.”
Despite these solid songs, my initial favorite off this album has to be Blunt’s surprising delve into the realm of mortality in “I’ll Take Everything”, a lyrically powerful blend of sorrow and genuine concern with death that represents a darker side of the artist. If there’s one complaint I have it’s that the C.D. becomes a bit formulaic and depends on its catchy tunes and crude humor rather than sticking with a deeper meaning. Having said that, the fact that Blunt did choose to cross this thematic line hints at a future exploration of more serious subjects that certainly has me excited.
All the Lost Souls is a must have for any James Blunt fan, but I’m guessing they’re not the ones that need convincing. If you’re any kind of soft rock aficionado at all, this album will definitely suit your taste for relaxing yet dramatic ballads. And this is just a guess, but it’ll probably suit your love life just fine too.