Once Upon a Mind
Mature and Contemporary Songs From Superstar Singer-Songwriter
James Blunt, like Ed Sheeran and I suppose Mumford & Sons divides opinions among music fans like nothing else I know. Music Snobs get really ‘sniffy’ at their mere mention which I can only presume is jealousy, as I very rarely read or hear constructive criticism about any or all of this illustrious and highly succesful British trio.
Personally I have a confession to make; as I quite like James Blunt.
The bloke that is; as I love his self-depreciating interviews and Social Media posts. I don’t know enough about his back catalogue apart from ‘that’ ubiquitous single and the album it came from; which I bought for Mrs. Magpie one Valentines Day.
So; what to expect from his sixth album and one that promises that he ‘returns to what he does best, writing songs that touch the heart and the head.’
I rather liked first track The Truth the first time I heard it; a slightly dark and ‘Spanish’ feel to the backing that swoops and sweeps across the landscape created by Blunt’s distinctive voice and evocative story, that will touch a million hearts; both male and female.
The current single, Cold follows and the production and construction is best described as ‘windswept and interesting’, as Blunt’s tight as a drum plea to a lost lover starts quite claustrophobicly then gets juxtaposed against the huge cinematic choruses of David O Selznick cinematic proportions …… which is no bad thing when played loud on a dark autumnal morning.
There are more like that too; but Blunt can do sensitive too; which is something many of us forget; and ‘that voice’ is just perfect for Monsters; a beautiful and heartbreaking tale of role reversal between a son and a father.
How It Feels To Be Alive will sound gloomy to many people (Mrs Magpie?) but this powerful piano led and tragically grand song is actually breathtaking; and listening as I am on headphones; simply stunning from start to finish!
Unlike me, Mrs. M likes the bouncy and more contemporary I Told You, Halfway, 5 Miles and Champions (personally I think it has hints of Mumford & Sons the way it builds; but obviously I could be wrong).
But for me there’s plenty to ‘get your teeth into’ and, as the man himself said; the delightful Younger and Stop The Clock (two songs about ‘getting older’) are aimed at both the listeners heart and head.
From what I know of James Blunt, the songs here are remarkably mature and have plenty of depth to them; especially The Greatest and especially the RMHQ Favourite Song I Told You; commercial by my normal tastes; but cleverly constructed with a fascinating story in the lyrics.
It may surprise regular readers but I have genuinely enjoyed this album over the last week; and what won’t surprise you is that the CD now resides in Mrs. Magpie’s car and could be heard coming from the speakers in the spare room this morning as she got ready for work.
Released October 25th 2019