Blunt “Landing” For Blunt

James Blunt became an international pop star with his one-hit–wonder, “You’re Beautiful” from his debut album “Back to Bedlam” in 2005. Since then, Blunt has released two albums that failed to deliver on many levels and there were rumours that he was quitting the music industry for good. His attempt to break into the music charts once again comes with his latest album “Moon Landing.”  James Blunt has a unique voice range, writes incredibly penned lyrics and is now a music veteran, so I was looking forward to this album. However, it turns out that, “Houston, we have a problem!”

The album opens with a poignant ballad, “Face the Sun,” about hope that comes after heartbreak, which sees Blunt serenading, “God knows that it’s hard to find the one/ But in time all the flowers turn to face the sun.”  The pace quickens for the next two tracks, “Satellites” and “Bonfire Heart” with kick drums, guitar riffs, sing along choruses and energy-pumped songs. “Moon Landing” launches very well but then goes way off-track with the next number, “Heart to Heart.” There is too much going on in the song and not in a good way. The claps, back-up singers, electric guitars and Blunt’s voice all seem too rushed.

The album corrects itself with “Miss America,” a hauntingly beautiful song that Blunt wrote in memory of the late Whitney Houston. “But no goodbyes you’ll always be Miss America/ We watched you fly but nothing’s free, Miss America,” beautifully eulogize the musical legend. It has a perfect balance of electric guitar, drums and the more orchestral string instruments, even though the piano notes start off sounding exactly the same as that of Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games.” Throughout the album, Blunt sandwiches his more soulful songs between the faster paced ones, creating a break in rhythm that makes the album a hard listen. The transitions between the songs are not smooth, and this robs the slower songs of their emotional gravitas. In turn, the faster songs seem too hurried.

The last two songs completely change trajectory. “Postcards” brings in ukuleles, and bass and guitar riffs that give it a weird reggae tempo that not even the lyrics can save. “Blue on Blue” is another slow song that crescendos with violins and Blunt repeating “I’m coming under fire” way too many times. The album thankfully closes with an acoustic version of “Miss America” that shows Blunt at his best: a piano, heart heavy lyrics and falsetto notes that he always hits perfectly.

Seven years in the music industry and “Moon Landing” show that Blunt has not grown as an artist in terms of his musicality. We know that he can make great folk rock songs with, “Sun on Sunday,” “Miss America” and “Bonfire Heart” being perfect examples. But these songs are not enough to make “Moon Landing” a must have, even if you are a James Blunt fan. He needs to evolve and expand his music style if he wants to make a proper landing in an industry full of ever-evolving artists.

 

NOT RECOMMENDED: Sadly, James Blunt remains stagnant as an artist and “Moon Landing” is more of a “been there, heard that” rather than a voyage into new frontiers.