James Blunt’s latest may surprise fans

Where does a musician go after creating an undeniable classic? James Blunt faced this question after scoring one of the biggest songs in recent years with "Your Beautiful," which resonated to American fans as well as fans in his native United Kingdom. Just like fellow stellar UK acts Keane ("Nothing In My Way") and Coldplay, Blunt’s song was able to make a smooth transition to the CD players and hearts of Americans.

Blunt’s latest album, All the Lost Souls, has a title that perfectly sums up the heavy subject matter of its songs. Instead of trying to recreate the success of "You’re Beautiful" with a cheap knockoff, Blunt goes in a different direction, and his ideas work well.

The album starts with the single, "1973." The understated production, which features a smooth bass line, allows listeners to focus on the superb lyrics. Reflecting on the past, Blunt’s songwriting is great as always: "Simona / You’re getting older / Your journey’s been etched on your skin / Simona / Wish I had known that / What seemed so strong / Has been and gone."

The song’s chorus works well, as it exemplifies the nostalgic themes of the song: "And though time goes by / I will always be / In a club with you / In 1973 / Singing, ‘Here we go again.’"

The next song, "One of the Brightest Stars," is a change of pace from the faster "1973." Perhaps reflecting on his new-found adulation that "You’re Beautiful" has brought him, Blunt sings, "One day your story will be told / One of the lucky ones who’s made his name / One day they’ll make you glorious/ Beneath the lights of your deserved fame / Everybody loves you ’cause you’ve taken a chance.’" The stellar song starts off as a piano ballad, with drums entering later.

Because of the style of "You’re Beautiful," many who have not heard all of his music might expect Blunt to be squeaky clean. However, the artist shows that’s untrue, avoiding simple pop numbers and instead tackling heavy subjects on All the Lost Souls, such as drug addiction in the song "Give Me Some Love."

In this one of many songs with deep lyrics, Blunt ponders, "Why don’t you give me some love? / I’ve taken ship-load of drugs / I’m tired of never fixing the pain / Valium said to me, ‘I’ll take you seriously’/ And we’ll come back as someone else/ Who’s better than yourself."

The only song on this album that is faintly similar to "You’re Beautiful" is "I Really Want You," because its chorus is sung in a similar style as the former. However, it doesn’t sound like Blunt is trying to lazily reproduce the hit, as the lyrics of the verses are distinctly more prolific.

Ending with the frantic "I Can’t Hear the Music," All The Lost Souls features a brisk, 10-song track listing, but that’s not a flaw, as there is not a bad song in the mix. All of the songs are listenable, and feature deep lyrics as well. At the same time, listeners don’t always have to focus on the lyrics; the relaxed vibe of a number of the songs makes them perfect to listen to in the background while studying. Though Blunt’s clear voice makes the lyrics easy to pick up, the liner notes feature the album’s lyrics.

Instead of taking the easy way out with imitations of "You’re Beautiful," Blunt expands his sound and the result is a great LP.

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