A British folk singer with a wispy and high-pitched voice recently came out of nowhere and landed a major U.S. radio hit across multiple formats. It was Michael David Rosenberg, also known as Passenger, with his song “Let Her Go.” This has happened before, approximately eight years ago with James Blunt and “Beautiful.” Blunt’s not a has-been by any means, but he does fall in the old-news category. He’s gotten some decent attention over the years, but he hasn’t approached the amount of attention he received with Back to Bedlam.
James Blunt is now three albums removed from Back to Bedlam with his most recent release, Moon Landing. Listening through the new album, you can hear how far away Blunt is from Back to Bedlam. Moon Landing is produced, written, and recorded exceptionally well… maybe a little bit too well. The reason why so many people flocked to Passenger’s hit this year and Blunt’s “Beautiful” all the way back in 2005 was because the song had soul. It didn’t just emit emotion, it bled it. This music doesn’t do that. It’s more than fine for Blunt to work with big name writers and producers. It’s also fine that he dives into Tom Petty territory several times over on this record and bounces in and out of a variety of styles trying to find a song to grab his audience’s attention. But dammit… where’s the soul? It’s not here, and that’s ultimately why Blunt hasn’t captured the attention that he had with his debut album.
James Blunt’s Moon Landing is ordinary. I wasn’t expecting a return to what he did with Back to Bedlam or even anything that resembled that record, but I was hoping for it. Blunt’s album is still easy to listen to and enjoyable, I just wish that he could push some of that soul back into the music that he’s seem to have lost.