Back To Bedlam

James Blunt

Atlantic, 2005

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/24/2006

This album isn't going to cause a worldwide phenomenon. It's not likely that it's going to gain appeal from the devoted My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy fans sweeping the nation at the moment. But it does something more than that, something more than Mariah Carey with her overwhelming amount of #1 hit singles or the already overexposed pop stars of our era can claim to.nbtc__dv_250

Back To Bedlam makes an impact on you, albeit it a quiet, subtle impact, but one that leaves the songs imprinted somewhere deeper than your usual disposable pop. It just might even take your breath away, which is just as much of a compliment as a truckload of Grammy nominations.

James Blunt builds Back To Bedlam on imperfections, from the fuzz of the drums to his occasional lack of grace while switching to falsetto. But coupled with introspective, near-heartbreaking lyrics (for example, from "Goodbye My Lover," "I am a dreamer but when I wake / You can't break my spirit / It's my dreams you take"), this album is one of the most engaging debuts I've managed to stumble across, not to mention the album that's become impossible to eject from my stereo.

Blunt, a British soldier turned musician, injects his own irresistible blend of influences into this album. Whether it's the jaunty, unmistakably Elton John-esque keys of "Billy" or "You're Beautiful," reminiscent of Damien Rice's earlier hit "The Blower's Daughter," Blunt sweeps through love and loss and regret almost effortlessly. He even drops in a reference to Oscar Wilde's corrupt creation Dorian Gray from The Picture Of Dorian Gray in "Tears And Rain," which, admittedly, is enough to win me over.

The heartfelt simplicity in Blunt's debut may not be the most groundbreaking of debuts, but its success is received from more than that. From intricate arrangements to Blunt's agonizingly captivating lyrics, Back To Bedlam's winsome, stripped-down approach to some of the most overused emotions in music stands out not in spite of its flaws but, endearingly enough, because of them.

Rating: A-

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© 2006 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic, and is used for informational purposes only.