The Sense of Melody by James Blunt

The Sense of Melody by James Blunt

James Hillier Blount known in the music news as James Blunt turns 50 today. The English musician made his recording debut, no longer very young, in October 2004 with the album “Back to Bedlam”. Behind him six years in His British Majesty’s Army where he reached the rank of captain. In 2002 James took leave, in 2003 he signed a recording contract thanks to the good offices of Linda PerryAmerican producer and former leader of the 4 Not Blondesand in 2004 he released his first album which, thanks to the single “You’re beautiful”, commands general attention. To date there are seven albums published by James Blunt. We want to return to “Back to Bedlam” where it all began with the review he wrote for us twenty years ago Luca Bernini.

James Blunt plays his cards well in this honest and disarming debut album, made “only” of 10 simple songs, mainly acoustic and recorded with a very particular taste for the great pop-rock of the ’60s and ’70s . “Back to bedlam” might seem like a vintage album, at first listen, and moreover the musical world that Blunt draws inspiration from seems to be precisely that: an imaginary crossroads between the lessons of the Beach Boys and that of Elton John on the one hand, and the acoustic-romantic vein that unites Jeff Buckley, David Gray and Damien Rice on the other. Without forgetting the strong references to the more country sound of the west coast such as Bron-y-Aur’s Led Zeppelin.

The element that, in a similar context, makes the difference even more is, needless to say, Blunt’s voice, which is truly particular.

A high, shrill voice, supported by a marked accent, at times too elegant, yet capable of doing its duty very well, characterizing the songs of this debut album in an unmistakable way. Which, for the rest, live on interesting lyrics, sometimes crude (“Goodbye my lover” tells of a farewell in very direct terms) and resentful (“Wisemen”), other times exquisitely romantic (this is the case of the initial “High ” and the subsequent “You’re beautiful”, but also “Cry”) or capable of outlining in a few words characters (“Billy” and “So long, Jimmy”, the latter inspired by Jimi Hendrix) and states of soul (“No bravery”, the final song of the album – and the only one produced by Linda Perry – is a desolate text dedicated to the victims of the Kosovo war).

“Back to bedlam” is an album made of few things, which however are able to enhance each other: words, voice, instruments and arrangements of a classic pop-rock album (piano, electric and acoustic guitars, that little ‘ of drums that doesn’t hurt, choirs), melodies capable of remaining imprinted immediately. From critics and (above all) the industry, “Back to bedlam” immediately made people shout about it as a masterpiece and as a record “destined to become one of the classics of contemporary pop music”: exaggerated words to define a good debut like this. James Blunt is undoubtedly an interesting artist, and he deserves to be followed carefully. But sometimes it is precisely by creating excessive expectations of this kind that unconsciously demolish good records and excellent talents.