Despite selling more than 20 million albums, James Blunt recently took songwriting lessons from Ed Sheeran in the lead up to his latest album The Afterlove.
The record opens with Love Me Better and Bartender. They’re almost identical, with plucked guitars paired with the clumsy lyrics. Lose My Number maintains this sunset vibe with R&B clicks and detuned Caribbean keyboard chords. Although the chorus is explosive, and highlights Blunt’s falsetto well, they all sound like imitations of Sheeran.
He shows a little more diversity in Don’t Give Me Those Eyes, a piano-led ballad crammed with harmonies that belong to a 90s boy band. California is musically the most interesting song, but is once again ruined by his vocals, using a lower register which doesn’t suit him.
The Afterlove finishes on a high note, and signals the direction Blunt should have taken from the start. Heartbeat is a highlight, with a nod to Sting, while Time of Our Lives is a far more emotive acoustic ballad, and a reminder of why everyone’s mum fancies him.
Overall, it’s a little sad that the talented writer who set alight radio stations with hits like You’re Beautiful is now chasing the tail of others to try to stay relevant.
Edited by Andrew McNicol