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Back To Bedlam - James Blunt (2005)

James Blunt's "You're Beautiful," from his popular CD Back To Bedlam, was all over TV, especially as part of several TV show soundtracks that appealed to twentysomethings. Then it became a huge hit on the radio. The well-promoted ballad, about seeing someone beautiful you used to love on the subway with their new love, really touched the hearts of millions around the world. "You're Beautiful" speaks to all the people who've loved and lost, who wistfully remember the great feeling love can bring, but must face the fact that they're not going to get together again with their former lover.

So, does Blunt have potential to be more than a one-hit wonder? Yes, definitely. "Back To Bedlam" is thoroughly listenable throughout, as it ponders life with ambiguous lyrics amid atmospheric pop-soul melodies. With Blunt, it's as if sensitive John Mayer became British and had a thing for adding violins and moody organ sounds to his music. Some critics call Blunt's music whiny and wimpy, so depending on how sensitive you are you'll either love or hate him.

Blunt is a tall, wiry guy in his late twenties. At one time, he served in the military, seeing the atrocities of war-torn Kosovo. His song, "Bravery," addresses that. When you see Blunt, his face generally looks gaunt, sullen, and world-weary, and he seems like an old soul. His tired eyes and slight frown make you wonder if he feels the pain of the world on his shoulders.

Blunt's music reflects the joy and pain of life, with an emphasis on the pain. He makes music that cleverly and poetically talks about lost love ("Goodbye My Lover"), spiritual imperfection ("Tears And Rain"), and the consequences of infidelity ("Billy").

Overall, Back To Bedlam is the kind of CD you put on when you're feeling kind of depressed and want to hear someone pontificate about life. Blunt is someone who seems to relate to what you're going through, with his sad but ultimately honest songs.

Note: If you buy this CD at Wal-Mart, you get an edited version that doesn't include swear words.