James Blunt - All The Lost Souls
Review by Jack Foley
JAMES Blunt’s sophomore album All The Lost Souls is a rather pale imitation of its predecessor, Back To Bedlam. It’ll be a huge seller, for sure, but it’s actually quite a dreary record that only comes alive on a couple of occasions.
According to the PR notes, the album is inspired by the iconic sounds of the ’70s and contains echoes of Fleetwood Mac and Steely Dan, not to mention Bowie and Zeppelin.
Blunt himself describes it as a record he’s happy with that demonstrates his growth and development as a songwriter and musician.
Yet there’s nothing here to rival the likes of High, Wisemen or Cry (from Bedlam) and the album as a whole seems to revel in a softly, softly approach that eventually becomes insipid.
Opening track and lead single 1973 is pleasant enough without really stretching the singer but the piano backed One Of The Brightest Stars sets the downward trend – slow building its way to an indifferent finish and backed by some pretty uninspired lyrics (“they’ll say told you so, we were the ones who saw you first of all, we always knew that you were one of the brightest stars”).
Album highlight I’ll Take Everything rallies hopes briefly, by dropping a much livelier beat and a much stronger set of vocals from Blunt that really do underline his credentials as a talented singer-songwriter. The piano chords are strong, too, while the lyrics are a great deal more assertive.
Thereafter, it’s distinctly hit-and-miss. Same Mistake is actually quite a depressing ballad about sadness, Carry You Home follows exactly the same format and once again charts melancholy territory (“as strong as you were, tender you go, I’m watching you breathing for the last time”) and blow me if Shine On doesn’t do exactly the same thing with some more indifferent lyrics.
Breaking them up somewhat is the more upbeat Give Me Some Love, another of the better offerings, and I Really Want You, which benefits from a more intricate song structure and some effective layering. Lyrically, it’s still downbeat and draws on global politics but it’s one of the more thought-provoking songs.
Annie eventually opens up into quite a captivating listen but I Can’t Hear The Music ends things on a rather average note to confirm the suspicion that All The Lost Souls really lacks any real soul or depth of its own.
Blunt was always going to face an uphill task in repeating the success of his soaraway debut – but he seems to be playing things a little too safe and his album lacks any real spark as a result.
It’s a shame because we’d been expecting so much more…
Download picks: 1973, I Really Want You, I’ll Take Everything
- Buy it (Amazon)
- Buy it (HMV)
- Back To Bedlam reviewed
- Chasing Time: The Bedlam Sessions reviewed