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Blunt on his way to sensitive songwriting glory

Observer Scene | Thursday, February 2, 2006

Chances are that James Blunt’s music has been or will be stuck in music fan’s heads sometime soon.

“You’re Beautiful,” the current pop single off of Blunt’s debut American album, “Back to Bedlam,” has frequented Top 40 radio stations, dominating pop culture airwaves with its smooth lyrics and lullaby beat. The video, featuring the artist’s icy plunge off of an Arctic cliff, has also gained success on music channels like VH1, where Blunt was featured as a “You Oughta Know” artist. Already a success overseas in his homeland of Britain, Blunt seems to be enjoying his stay in the States as well.

There are few, if any, who would have predicted Blunt’s success. Growing up in a family which Blunt’s Web site proclaims “had not a musical bone in any one of their bodies,” the singer/songwriter found himself in the military after studying Aerospace Manufacturing Engineering and Sociology in college. But Blunt kept his guitar near to him, as he recalls on his homepage, singing through the streets of Serb villages on peacekeeping missions.

The initial reaction to James Blunt is a fear that the listener has stumbled upon yet another John Mayer-esque performer, hoping to sell to the same sensitive female crowd. However, both the recent success of “You’re Beautiful” and the rest of the songs on “Back to Bedlam” stand to prove that Blunt won’t wind up a one-hit wonder at all.

Although certainly trying to play to the same audience as a Coldplay opening act would (but not yet attaining the brilliance of Chris Martin on piano), Blunt manages to carry musical wit through the album that could someday earn him his own place among the sensitive-songwriter gods.

While “You’re Beautiful” proves to be a perfect pop pleaser for the masses, the rest of the album carries lyrical and musical complexity, which should bring Blunt plenty of respect. The track “Billy,” with its catchy beat, seems destined for the same success that “You’re Beautiful” has garnered, while “Wisemen” also seems revved to back up Blunt’s success and keep his name on the charts for months to come.

“Back to Bedlam” manages to cover a myriad of feelings within the compilation, from the bittersweet despair featured within “You’re Beautiful” to the high of a successful relationship featured in the aptly-titled “High.” While “High” features some simplistic lyrics such as “Will you be my shoulder when I’m grey and older? / Promise me tomorrow starts with you,” Blunt does manage to reflect more than just direct adoration in quite a few songs. These songs include “Wisemen,” a symbol-laden song featuring lines like “And they’re really sorry now for what they’ve done / they were three Wise Men just trying to have some fun.”

Already managing to appeal to large audiences, the sappy teenage girl/college student in everyone should enjoy the entirety of “Back to Bedlam.” Luring the listener in with the success of “You’re Beautiful,” Blunt manages to also back up his talent and provide other soon-to-be chart-topping tracks.