Released: October 27
Welcoming the dawning of a new era, James Blunt takes stock of his life and career on his introspective seventh album.
Arriving on the back of his Top 10 greatest hits LP, the record sees the singer – who next year turns 50 – come to terms with the passing of time and the certainties of life across 10 songs that nod to his family, the people around him and those left behind.
Lead single Beside You is among the more commercial offerings on the record, with Blunt seemingly channeling the influence of his adopted home of Ibiza and proving that, almost 20 years into his career, the radio hits are still coming thick and fast.
Another sure-to-be crowd-pleaser, Some Kind Of Beautiful, is an electro-pop banger tailor made for the summer, while the funky bassline of Cold Shoulder leans into the disco trends that are dominating the pop charts.
It’s not all upbeat though and as Blunt declares his zest for life, he also navigates the challenges before him; aging, loss and the passing of time all play into the narrative that forms a complex picture of the performer, at the height of success, as he enters a new decade.
Opening number Saving A Life is a yearning call for no one to be left behind and a poignant opener that, had it been placed anywhere else in the tracklist, probably wouldn’t have hit so hard.
Dark Thought channels the grief of loss for a moment that, in its understatement, is among the most impactful on the record, while I Won’t Die With You is the musical equivalent to a sit-down talk with a friend who’s all but given up.
Laced throughout the set are moments of light, however, with the tender All The Love That I Ever Needed a love song in the purest sense and closing number Glow a hopeful nod to the future and a tribute to his kids.
At times the juxtaposition is jarring – even if the highs and lows are a fact of life – but when it comes to Blunt’s latest body of work there’s no question it’s one of his most confident offerings and, in terms of the songs themselves, his best in a long time.