Release Date: Mar 24, 2017
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter
On his fifth full-length, The Afterlove, British singer James Blunt makes a risky shift in his sensitive-guy-with-a-guitar sound, opting for a taut collection that tugs at the heartstrings with polished pop sheen. The slight departure seems to be a conscious decision, as the confidently self-aware Blunt sings that he "would have said 'you're beautiful'/but I used that line before," referencing his inescapable 2005 smash single. Recruiting OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder and Ed Sheeran on production, writing, and occasional backing vocals (the trio even joins forces on the pastoral "Time of Our Lives"), Blunt presents his most mainstream offering yet.
S ince reinventing himself as a Twitter banter lord a few years ago, James Blunt has proved he can do more than just mewl about pretty women and give cockney rhyming slang a new lease of life. But can he carry the genuinely entertaining Blunt 2. 0 over into his songcraft? Will he even try? Judging by the album's opening seconds, in which he moans humourlessly that "people say the meanest things" through a mouthful of whistling sibilance, the answer would seem to be: not in the slightest.
"I 've been called a dick/ I've been called so many things," sings go-to musical punchline James Blunt in the opening lines of his fifth album, on which he twice makes reference to his 2004 millstone megahit You're Beautiful. He's made a lot of capital recently out of this self-aware sense of humour, mainly via self-deprecating Twitter quips. But likable isn't listenable , and it's hard to stomach the everyman shtick from an Old Harrovian multimillionaire with a ski lift named after him in the Swiss Alps, especially as he croons "some people keeping all the cash" on the perkily trite, why-can't-we-all-just-get-on strummer Someone Singing Along.