James Blunt managed a difficult effort for not only most artists but especially singer/songwriters, making a follow-up that’s as good as their debut, and considering the real quality of Blunt’s first outing, All The Lost Souls had a lot to match. On this album, the songs are just as dark, just as honest and brutal and the songwriting reaches its peak. Unfortunately since this album his 3rd and 4th albums just haven’t hit the same mark.
The album opens on the driving “1973” which mixes an entrancing piano line, a great bass groove and a catchy vocal line to make a song that keeps you moving while telling an incredibly sad story. “One Of The Brightest Stars” carries some tone from his debut, but once Blunt hits the pre-chorus it attains a magical quality that creates that feel good sound effortlessly. “I’ll Take Everything” gets back into the dark tone, and somehow keeps it running on a mesh of arpeggiated chords.
“Same Mistake” runs a lot slower than most of the album but grabs your attention through its howling ooos and the choruses Blunt can so easily pull off. “Carry You Home” stays somber but pulls it off with a great vocal line that drives the song, it also has the great line “and they all look pretty, in New York City.” Blunt’s best song comes on the McCartney-esque “Give Me Some Love” it’s dark, catchy and it feels vicious and real. The chorus is bursting with the agony of a person whose life is falling apart and the song hits its best note on the bridge with Blunt singing “Someday soon they’ll drop the bomb and let it all out” with an amazing progression and guitars ringing in the aforementioned McCartney/Wings tone.
“Shine On” is as high toned as Blunt gets here, running some bright sounding piano and vocals on a charming song, and a great solo near the end. “Annie” tells a great narrative of a life in the spotlight, and tumbles into its chorus with the ease that Blunt has, catchy as ever. “I Can’t Hear The Music” has even more dark tones to it and ends the album on a song that’s dark yet light and has a final feel to it only beat by “Give Me Some Love.” It’s final bridge just has a masterful feel to it that feels so familiar but not overdone.