The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


A review of the album 'All The Lost Souls' by James Blunt

Review Snapshot: Alright. At least let's give this album a fair listen, okay? (A fair listen later) Ummm... it's conservative, unimaginative and over-polished M.O.R. soft-rock that takes strange pride in sounding 'classic' (i.e. old). We'll just have to accept that this is how the vast majority of people like their music. Good luck to them.

The Cluas Verdict? 1 out of 10

Full Review:
James Blunt All The Lost SoulsIf we are to go by the evidence by record-sales, the majority of music fans like their tunes to be reassuring, uncomplicated and familiar. They listen to music in order to unwind after a stressful day at work, a frustrating traffic-jam coming home, a final notice from the building society through the letterbox. Which is fair enough.

(And before indie fans start getting all superior, this is also why alternative radio stations have to fill their daytime schedules with endless Nirvana, Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins from 15 years ago. Feeling better now?)

Anyway, over 11 million of Mr and Mrs Tense-Nervous-Headache have already reached for 'Back To Bedlam', the first album by the erstwhile Captain Blount (who covers 'Where Is My Mind?' live, Pixies fans! He's one of you!).

A lot of those eleven million were hooked by the histrionics of 'You're Beautiful', but new album 'All The Lost Souls' features nothing as blatantly manipulative as that mystifyingly popular single. Instead, most of the tracks (like first single '1973') are content to just snuggle under the warm blanket of soothing nostalgia and not disturb anyone in doing so. The arrangements (mostly mid-tempo piano) are anodyne and risk-free. This album is impressively single-minded in its pursuit of M.O.R. soft-rock/ballad fans, as if trying to win some sort of bet to be the most '70s-daytime-radio-sounding. We've no problem if people like this sort of music. To us it sounds shamefully conservative and cravenly unimaginative - but that's just us.

Blunt's lyrics are of the sub-Dylan angst-and-allegory variety - you really should look up the words to 'I Really Want You'; they're memorably bad (It starts "Many prophets preach on bended knee/Many clerics wasted wine").  But there are always people who'll find this poetic.

Strangely, he only ever makes passing reference to a potentially fascinating subject: Captain Blount served in Kosovo in 1999 and apparently led the British forces into Pristina. Yet he only ever offers tantalising glimpses of his experiences before lapsing into cliched, maudlin 'war is bad' dirges, with 'No Bravery' in his first album and this time around in 'Same Mistake': "And so I sent some men to fight / And one came back at dead of night / Said he'd seen my enemy?" / Said 'he looked just like me"'. Has the man really experienced war and come back as an artist who has absolutely no original insight to share with us?

What really puzzles us, though, is how anyone could love Blunt's high-pitched, whinnying voice, which by now just sounds like self-parody. But you know best, Blunt-lovers. Sincerely, perhaps one of you could explain his appeal to us...

Aidan Curran

 To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of this album on Amazon just click here.

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Nuggets from our archive

2001 - Early career profile of Damien Rice, written by Sinead Ward. This insightful profile was written before Damien broke internationally with the release of his debut album 'O'. This profile continues to attract hundreds of visits every month, it being linked to from Damien Rice's Wikipedia page.