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James Blunt - Back To Bedlam

It seems that you cannot turn on the TV or flick through a magazine anymore without seeing a new musical artist (or film for that matter) being hailed as 'the best new thing' or 'this year's big thing'; criminal critics, though, may not be so wrong when it comes to James Blunt's debút album, Back To Bedlam.

It may not deserve all the hyperbole and superlatives it has been receiving recently, but certainly this album is one of that high calibre which contains no track on it that could be noted as a filler. His most
recognisable track will be, of course, 'Beautiful', which has granted him the top spot in the singles charts1 while the album was simultaneously riding high at number one on the album chart. For me, though, this is not the best track on the album: that accolade has to go to the overwhelmingly emotional 'Goodbye My Lover' — which doesn't need too much explanation about its topic.

In fact, one point of the album that can become a little thin is its constant reliance on relationships for song topics. Even when he is not talking about women it sounds like he is: the opening track, for instance, 'High', is merely about nature and the dawn's early light, but sounds like a love song. The closing track, 'No Bravery', seems to be about the effects of war on people and is certainly refreshing in terms of its social examination, rather than the political aspect (if it is about Iraq, of course, which is not explicit).

Other than three tracks in the middle of the album, the songs are all mellow and led by either gentle piano or calming acoustic guitars. Even the more exciting parts of the album are only made more dynamic by heightened percussion, so do not expect any kind of uplifting electric guitar riffs or crashing crescendos; Blunt uplifts with the pure passion of his voice that he does not seem to push to the limit, but relaxes comfortably and soothingly on what he can do best, emotional ballads.

The final point of appreciation has to go to his poetic lyrics. Being a literary student I find myself always looking for the deeper meanings and subtle allusions of words, but in Blunt it is not necessary for the (at times cryptic) lyrics to be explained for where they are explicit they are joyfully pleasant to hear and aesthetically arranged. Such words have not been used in songs for a long time and certainly have not been crafted so well and so powerfully, yet so unnassumingly. In short the lyrics seem beautiful and impressive yet there is nothing boisterous about it.

Even shorter, this album is a worthwhile purchase for the easy listener and has replayable value.


29.09.05 Front Page

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1Not that this is particularly gratifying anymore.

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