sat 24/06/2017

CD: James Blunt - The Afterlove | reviews, news & interviews

CD: James Blunt - The Afterlove

CD: James Blunt - The Afterlove

A 336 word struggle to find constructive things to say about James Blunt's fifth album

An overall tone of slight regret or loved up self-satisfaction
Ibiza-living Twitter-lord styles it out in black and grey

There’s nowhere to go with this one, is there? Like any music writer, I want to come at James Blunt afresh. I’d love to say, “No, put your prejudices away, this album is actually alright and here’s why…”, but even the most accomplished sophist would, I suspect, find this impossible. That said, there’s not much quality difference between the better tracks here and those on Ed Sheeran’s well-loved, hugely successful Divide. The Bee Gees-like “Heartbeat”, with its simple guitar motif, underplayed drum tattoos and subtle, catchy tune is the best song on The Afterlove and I’d as soon listen to it as anything by Sheeran.

But that’s the best that can be said. Indeed, even this suggestion is spiked when finding Sheeran on song-writing/production credits for the unctuously uxorious “Make Me Better”. Blunt is an easy target, and his humorous, self-depreciating Twitter feed makes firing barbs his way almost pointless. He’s an officer class posho, married into the aristocracy, and worth millions off the back of music consumed primarily by people who don’t usually “do” music. He even opens the album with the lines “People say the meanest things/I’ve been called a dick, I’ve been called so many things/I know I’ve done shit that I admit deserves it/But that don’t mean that it doesn’t sting”. Bad poetry but, again, showing shrewd, candid self-awareness.

Overall, however, this music is overblown or sappy or both, with an overall tone of slight regret or loved up self-satisfaction. The worst song is “Don’t Give Me Those Eyes”, a multi-tracked Foreigner-style power ballad monstrosity that contains the lines “Hotel room in Paris/Kills me that you’re married/’Cause we know this should be done”. Not all The Afterlove is that hideous. “Someone Singing Along” is convivially catchy. But I’m reaching here, and his voice is really annoying. Even Blunt’s jollier strums are lathered in ubiquitous post-tropical house pop production, à la Coldplay (and anyone else attempting to maintain appeal in the phone “content” age). Alright. I give up. Blunty’s album is flaccid wibble.

More album reviews on the artsdesk

James Blunt talks through The Afterlove, track by track

 

Comments

I've done music all my life and whilst the likes of the reviewer thinks they have exclusivity on taste, I like James Blunt. Posh boy he is, but he can write a tune. Also the class bashing is a bit old hat. There's posh TV presenters, comedians actors but they dont get half the stick. Grow up and open your ears.

Each to their own, I suppose. I am not a huge JB fan but I do think this album has a much more interesting and less depressing (?) set of songs than some of his earlier album releases. I applaud him for doing something a bit different. Surprised that "Bartender" was not co-written witrh Sheeran - t has more than a hint of his style in it.

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