James Blunt - Back to Bedlam

2006-03-30 04:54

If you can imagine a The Beautiful South fronted by a genetically spliced Elton John and Barry Gibb, you'd have a good idea of where to place Mister James Blunt in this musical library we call "adult contemporary" music.

It's not necessarily a bad reference, unless you think Elton John's best work is Disney's The Lion King and you've never heard of his masterpiece, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975).

There are moments when Blunt's delivery hints at Captain's cool. And with a slightly different approach to the songwriting and production processes, he may at some point achieve that same kind of impact. Frustratingly, he falls a short of such lofty expectations on this effort.

Back to Bedlam had been around for about a year, shuffling awkwardly in indie wasteland, when Blunt was noticed doing live support slots for, among others, the aforementioned Elton John, and Katie Melua. The album is very much suited to audiences that consider Elton and Katie's low-key, sedate "songs about personal demons and pain" in-vogue.

As these types of artists and their albums go, Blunt is admittedly better than some - Daniel Powter and Rob Thomas' last efforts jump to mind - and he probably deserves some recognition for that. He does a fair enough job of playing several instruments, and writing most of the material, too.

But the length of the album may be a bit much on some days. Back to Bedlam seems to drag on a bit, and it's "one dimensional", to put it - erm... bluntly. Of course, many would disagree with that appraisal - critics and fellow musos have been heaping praise on this release. It's hard to work out why. It's not earth-shattering. It's merely better than average in its rather unadventurous genre.

What Elton John realised on Captain Fantastic was that an album of this introspective nature requires some levity to provide a counterpoint to its otherwise cheerless subject matter - either by way of eye-catching personality, or lyrical whimsy. As it is presented, Back to Bedlam's dour misery is "enough to make a shy bald Buddhist reflect and plan a mass murder" (with apologies for the quote to Morrissey).

Now that's a lyric, see? Even a line like that would have made Back to Bedlam much more bearable.

- Anton Marshall

What's with these young Brit artists? Where has all the happiness of youth gone? Where are the razorblades? Who can say. But Elton John's favourite new artist is climbing the charts, and the real rock 'n rollers are in hiding. Catch a special on James Blunt and his life so far on Thursday 6th's episode of Top Billing.

Lulas 2005/10/05 5:07 PM
blunt's album I find this music likeable. Someone played me "goodbye my lover" and I thought that was moving, in an awkward kind of way. So dunno. Don't disagree with this review. Paul Simon - Hearts and Bones
Carman 2005/10/06 10:45 AM
james blunt What are you smoking - to say this cd is awesome does not do it justice. For the first time in long while music in its true form. What pleasure - I Highly recommend it Do not agree with the reveiw RATED 8/10
Gareth Morris 2005/10/06 10:52 AM
Bedlam - the city and not the state of confusion With many of the aspects mentioned in the above review, I would have to agree. For me this album and its appreciation lies very much on one's mood and receptiveness (if there is such a word) upon first hearing it. I can see it as the sort of album which would strike some people as mind blowing and perfect. It would most likely be people who have just been through or are going through some melancholy related to loss of some sort - most particularly emotional or romantic loss. As for others, it may not have the same effect. But then again, stop me if you think that you've heard this one before, this is what people said of David Gray's first release as well. I was one of those for whom it did nothing, but in the light of my current personal pre-disposition towards singer/songwriters and 'folky' music, the Blunt disc moved me. Danny Schmidt - Parables and Primes
Tammy 2005/10/06 1:53 PM
James Blunt To the critic of this specific review .... as Mara Louw would say to Gareth Cliff.... 'you suck'. This review a little too on the harsh side for me. The albulm is awsome ... more than awsome. My advise... go on ... relax, have a good glass of wine, re-listen to the music and feel what we are all feeling!
MAGGIE 2005/10/06 4:18 PM
Bernice 2005/10/06 5:00 PM
Passion and soul When did it become uncool to feel a little bit more than nothing? Agreed, this album really does talk to you if you are experiencing a "melancholy romantic loss" or even if you can remember one. That said, if an album can do that, there has to be something to it. The same theme seems to be explored throughout the album, which does make it a bit repetitive. All in all Blunt bares his soul and speaks with a passion seriously lacking in the general Adult Contemporary audience.
Shanley 2005/10/07 8:32 AM
James Blunt: Back to Bedlam What an amazing artist and album! It has been a while since we've heard someone who is not only a singer but a musician and song-writer as well. To say this album is "one dimensional" couldn't be further from the truth! If you sit and listen, REALLY listen you will hear James Blunt has talent on so many levels. He sings from his soul...buy the CD!!!
Lula 2005/10/07 9:46 AM
Hysterical nastiness in response to opinion A lot of comments on this review are hysterical and nasty. You say you disagree but put no arguement to dispute what has been said in this well thought out, basically positive and clearly argued review. You are not doing your idol any favours be behaving like Jerry Springer contestents. Why not discuss the album and argue your point instead of bla bla blah-ing on about "just listen". I guarantee the reviewer has heard the album - probably a few times! There are LOTS of singer song writers. They just don't get played on radio much. Many are much more original and interesting than James Blunt - his melodies are predictable, his lyrics are twee. But you'd only know that if you'd heard the competition.
G 2005/10/31 1:01 PM
James Blunt Poor Anton Marshall. Clearly hasn't had enough of boy bands, and here comes a man (a real man) who can actually access his feelings and share them. cool. Great Album. Not all of the songs are sad or morose, some of them have some really nice thoughts behind them. Maybe the people who pick out the sad thoughts in the lyrics ought to have some therapy to deal with them.
Amanda 2005/10/31 1:02 PM
Rod Stewart Does anybody else think that James Blunt sounds like a younger version of Rod Stewart? (He's much better looking in my opinion though) Burn To Shine by Ben Harper
Lulu 2005/10/31 3:11 PM
G, that's not so clever If you'd read other reviews by Anton you would know that he doesn't like boy bands. Well not most of them. That in fact he is very into Adult Contemporary rock, if it's good Adult Contemporary rock. Also note that he wasn't entirely negative about this album. There were positive comments too. What's with the personal attacks? Is Anton the one not handling things... criticism for instance? Deluxe - This is Deluxe
Anton Marshall 2005/10/31 3:22 PM
Blunty Blunt Blunt Generally, I don't respond to responses (hahaha!). But G's comment (if that's his/her REAL name!) sort of made me think about something quite ugly. What if people who post such comments do so without actually reading what I said... but worse: What if they actually read what I said and didn't understand it? Is it my fault? It must be. Because if my opinion is important enough to get me insulted, lambasted, accused and even assaulted, I must be the beginning and end of all argumentative reasoning. Which would force people to resort to name-calling, psycho-analysing and even registering me with the local sex-offenders register. And I thought my review was positive, given that James is basically a boy-band - only there's one of him. Backstreet Boys - Backstreet's Back
alan b 2005/10/31 5:42 PM
blunt is sharp! not only can this boy sing, but he is a multi-talented, and damn fine musician. he's up there with the best of them! david gray - life in slow motion
sheila stanton 2005/10/31 5:58 PM
back to bedlam brilliant and not one bad track. well worth buying
shaun duffy 2005/10/31 8:44 PM
Geoffrey S 2005/10/31 9:14 PM
Sublime I have to say that I was hooked on this CD immediately and if this is his first effort he will only get better with more experience. The Killers - Hot Fuss
kevinm 2005/10/31 9:28 PM
Real Talent Its been a while since i've heard an album that's made me sit up and take notice. James Blunt might not be all you want him to be at the moment, but he will certainly rise above your expectations in the very near future. I love the album and the maturity in his music.
Kevinm 2005/10/31 9:34 PM
Your Review I also find your review a bit narrow minded. Read up on James' past life, maybe you'll then understand the bitterness and sadness in his songs. We can't all have a rosy life you know! Let people grieve over their past anyway they can, just don't criticize them for it.
Tracy 2005/10/31 9:50 PM
Jame Blunt - Back to Bedlam Brilliant, love it. Horrified that the review says the album is too long. Brilliant, brilliant. Absolutely
James Blunt 2005/10/31 10:38 PM
Back to Bedlam Hey Anton if you didn't like my album why didn't you just say so. But guess who's alone now it's not me. Anton Marshall - My debut
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