Published On: Sat, Oct 26th, 2019

James Blunt album REVIEW: Once Upon A Mind explores mortality and time with a deft touch | Music | Entertainment

Launching into his sixth studio album, Once Upon A Mind, with a rousing stomper, The Truth, it’s easy to be deceived that James Blunt’s new record is to be a blur of jangly acoustic pop full of platitudes, simpering and cap-doffing to Mumford and Sons.

But, while there’s more of those regrettable characteristics than is desirable, it is, overall, a sympathetically crafted journey through the mind of a star grappling with the existential questions raised with age.

Once Upon A Mind winds along, swelling then abating, through thumping upbeat tracks — Champions,  Youngster — and subtler meditations on the passing of time, the latter of which tend to land much better.

Disappointing are the (somewhat too prevalent) fillers which lean towards chart-bolstering electro-pop.

5 Miles sits directly at the album’s halfway mark and offers nothing much of substance, calling to mind a million contemporary popstars currently making a decent living but no lasting impact on the landscape.

Champions shoots for anthemic but winds up phoney and thin, although the touch of co-writer Mozella — who’s CV boasts songs for One Direction, Ellie Goulding and Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball — ensures it’s destined for third single status and sync royalties.

On Youngster, while the lyrics delve into feelings of being usurped by a new generation of stars and weave neatly into the album’s exploration of mortality, an over-produced sound, courtesy of chart-hit machine production team Ghosted, leaves it hollow.

Contrastingly, Stop The Clock is Blunt at his best, deftly handling the starkest confrontation of his fear at the passing of time.

“It’s like the hands of time / are putting handcuffs on mine / and nothing about this is holy / it’s just killing me, killing me slowly,” he sings in the chorus.

Swerving the trap of melancholy to the point of cheesiness, he ponders the speed at which life passes by with sincerity.

Heartbreaking perspective illuminates the place from which Blunt has penned the deeply personal Once Upon A Mind with the arrival of Monster.

An invitation into a raw moment, the singer’s father currently living with stage 4 chronic kidney disease and awaiting a transplant, for which he isn’t a match, the track places listeners behind closed doors, privy to a poignant letter from son to father.

“I’m not your son / you’re not my father / we’re just two grown men saying goodbye,” he observes with maturity.

“No need to forgive, no need to forget / I know your mistakes and you know mine.”

It’s impossible to explore Blunt’s talents without focusing on his writing, lyricsmithing being his primary strength.

The ability to cut through to the hot button of an emotional situation is what first defined his career with the likes of Tears and Rain on his 2004 debut, Back To Bedlam.

How It Feels To Be Alive epitomises the triumph of the treasures sandwiched between blander offerings: a spectacular, haunting ballad set against a rich orchestra and choral arrangement.

Among the album’s finest gems, the evocative song revels in the convergence of Once Upon A Mind’s theme and purpose with Blunt’s flare for the lyrically dramatic.

Once Upon A Mind sees a more cautious, seasoned singer songwriter than the You’re Beautiful-toting, pre-viral viral phenomenon many remember most vividly, though it’s the internet which has, in the years since, polarised him as a caricature of himself, capable only of razor-sharp Twitter comebacks or soppy love songs made for radio, but nothing in between.

Source link

Most Popular News