James Blunt has a reason to smile

James Blunt has been to bedlam and has been a lost soul. These days though, the British singer-songwriter is all about causing some trouble and having some fun in the process.

Blunt, most widely known for melodic hits including You’re Beautiful, Goodbye My Lover and 1973, has found a reason to smile again with the release of his newest album Some Kind of Trouble. With two world tours and more than 18 million records sold, there is little question that Blunt is more than a one-hit wonder.

The decidedly more upbeat approach he took with the songs on Some Kind Of Trouble was no accident, however. After having such massive success with his debut, Blunt jokes that his sophomore record was “pretty miserable” and as such, felt his third record was a good starting point to get him back on track.

“There was a naïveté to the melancholy of my first record and perhaps that was a big part of the charm of that album,” an affable Blunt tells The Times & Transcript. “When it came time to make the follow-up, I had been thrown into a more cynical world and I think All The Lost Souls reflects that darkness. Where I probably should have been looking out for my audience with my second record, I wrote an album completely for myself. Looking back, I really needed to do that at the time; it was rather cathartic.”

Having gotten past the darkness that surrounded his second album, Blunt says that it seemed natural to want to make his third record lighter in nature and a fun experience for listeners. In fact, Blunt goes so far to say that he believes the same naïveté and innocence that permeated his debut can be found on his newest effort.

“I consider the batch of songs I wrote for Some Kind Of Trouble to be the songs I wanted to write as a teen all those years ago.”

Prior to learning the guitar at age 14, Blunt had been classically trained on the violin and the piano. It was a friend who played electric guitar that ended up turning Blunt’s world upside down when he introduced him to the six-stringed instrument.

“All of a sudden, not only could I play songs that I was hearing on the radio on my guitar but I eventually started writing my own songs. As a teen, I think you really struggle to express yourself and suddenly, I was able to do so through song,” Blunt says.

Even though he has not yet been able to match the across the board success of You’re Beautiful, Blunt’s career hasn’t exactly been a dud. Asked if he feels pressure, either internal or external, to replicate the success of that first single, Blunt says that he is feels fortunate not to have anyone else’s expectations weighing on him at this point in his career.

“I cannot really be anything but grateful when it comes right down to it. You’re Beautiful helped me to lay down a great foundation but I don’t necessarily feel like it is my best song or the most heartfelt song that I have written. Ultimately though, no one wants to repeat themselves in songwriting; it is important that I continue to find new ways to evolve and express myself.”

Born in 1974, Blunt served with the British Army for six years after graduating from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Though it was partly his desire to uphold family tradition by enrolling, he jokes that his father got him to enlist at a time when he “didn’t know what I was doing”. Blunt looks back upon his time with the military fondly though, stating that the experiences he gained, including having served with NATO peacekeeping forces in Kosovo are something that he continues to carry with him today.

“I struggle far more in the music business and with media than I ever did in the military. War is absolutely devastating and terrible, dealing with life and death. We had to constantly try to bring a sense of good to the missions that we were working on. It was something that made you feel very alive and as though you had a real purpose for being there,” he says.

Blunt’s upcoming show on Saturday evening at the Moncton Coliseum will mark his second time in the Atlantic region, having previously played in Saint John while touring in support of his second record approximately three years ago. In light of so many musicians and bands routinely skipping Atlantic Canada as a part of their international tour schedule, Blunt says that he has nothing but love for Canada as a whole and is grateful for the opportunity to return.

“My band and I are very well looked after in Canada. We have such great fun; the audiences are so lively and just have so much fun during the concert. I swear to God that I am not just saying this but when I told my band that we were returning to Canada to play some shows, they were literally jumping up and down,” he laughs.

Article published in November 24, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript