Let Me Be Blunt
James Blunt is no stranger to suffering, having served as a military peacekeeper. Nor is he a stranger to singing about it, having a single off of his debut Back To Bedlam at number one on the UK charts.Blunt’s music is difficult to describe; but imagine a voice much like Cedric Bixler-Zavala of The Mars Volta, only singing Elton John-like melodies over acoustic guitar and piano with a slightly 70’s vibe, and you might come close. Like many debut albums, it spans a wide range of styles. It is moving and sweetly pensive, especially tracks like the solemn closer “No Bravery,” written while serving in Kosovo. In contrast, the opener “High” is slow but cheerful, with a nice build-up that gives it substance. “Wise Men” starts out with an R&B feel, mostly to do with the electronic instrumentation, but then the acoustic guitar brings it back into Blunt’s singer-songwriter realm. “So Long Jimmy” is pure funk and blues.
Other tracks, such as “Tears and Rain,” sound a bit thin. There is much that could be done with the vocals, instrumentation, and mixing that we hear hints of on other songs, but that aren’t consistent throughout the album. A little too much of the album relies on Blunt’s voice to carry it, and while his voice is far from bad, it definitely benefits from some boosting by background vocals, effects, and more solid instrumentation. A good example is “Out Of My Mind,” which traverses between wan verses and full-sounding choruses.
In the end though, we can expect great things from a chart-topper who has actually seen the pain that he sings about.