James Blunt spent a year in Kosovo as a soldier in the British Army, and that exposure of the horrors of strife and conflict inspired the emotional tenor of his work as an artist. The lyrics and melodies he wrote in his spare time from soldiering formed the genesis of his impressive debut album, Back to Bedlam. With a unique falsetto voice that fits perfectly with his acoustic guitar based melodies, Blunt creates a style that is parts folk, rock, pop, and indie, and eminently listenable.
The songs feel familar and comfortable at first listen, but what is interesting about Blunt is that his chords, melodies, and often lyrics veer in unpredictable directions, but with great results. Just when you think you know where the song is going, he changes it up a bit. That is the mark of a talented artist. Sonically, the songs are quite rich. The overall production values remind me a lot of Sarah McLachlan’s: rich, deep, judicious use of strings and piano, and well crafted combination of instruments that juxatopose his unique voice. Some claim that Blunt envokes David Gray or John Mayer. I disagree, if anything I hear more of Annie Lennox and Tracy Chapman, but with stronger melodies.
Don’t be suprised if you start hearing James Blunt popping up on television shows and radio everywhere. His music is accessible, enjoyable, and highly listenable, and if he can continue writing songs like High, Wiseman, So Long Jimmy, Goodbye My Lover, and No Bravery(which is heavily influenced by his experience in Kosovo), he will have a long career. Often #1 albums in Britain don’t have the same appeal in the US, but if any album can crossover, this one can.
Note: This is listed as having explicit lyrics, mainly due to a pretty blatant F bomb in “you’re beautiful.” There weren’t any others that I heard. If you find that word offensive, pick up the clean version, which has the radio/video edit.