Sound — 7
James Blunt is an English singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who received international attention after the release of the single from his debut album, "You're Beautiful." Before becoming a pop star, James Blunt was a captain in the British Army and resigned his commission in 2002 in order to pursue his music career. "Moon Landing" is the fourth album by James Blunt, and contains 11 tracks clocking in at just under 40 minutes. The lead single from the album is a track called "Bonfire Heart." Also, notably, James Blunt wrote a song with co-writers titled "Miss America" that is a tribute to Whitney Houston. There will also be a deluxe version of the album available which includes 3 additional tracks as well as a video of an interview with James Blunt titled "Behind the Album."
The album opens up with the track "Face the Sun," with a piano intro and the sound of a motorcycle passing by. Until close to the middle of the track the piano and James' voice is the sole instrumentation, but is joined by the rest of the band close to the mid-point. "Satellites" has an almost hip-hop vibe to the instrumentation in the intro and verses, but moves on to include a ukulele as the primary instrument in the choruses. "Bonfire Heart," the lead single from the album, has a finger-picked guitar as the central instrumentation and similar vocal processing and delivery to Blunt's previous single, "You're Beautiful," but with the added bonus of a big chorus with a lot of extra voices thrown in. "Heart to Heart" includes a palm-muted clean riff on a guitar playing along with a piano, utilizing some hand-clapping and a kick drum for the majority of the percussion. "Miss America" opens up with a deep and slow melody on piano with some harp mixed in. I kept finding myself thinking of "Rocket Man" by Elton John, based on a lot of the vocal melodies that Blunt uses on this track. "The Only One" opens with piano and keyboard with a quirky little melody. This is pretty much a "vulnerable" love song, which I guess is kind of Blunt's specialty. "Sun on Sunday" opens up with a piano melody that reminds me of another song that I can't quite remember. The melody on this track really got into my head, but I think this is at least partially because it reminded me from some half-remembered melody from another song. "Bones" is an interesting track, though it starts out with the line "I've never been a beautiful boy/ I've never liked the sound of my own voice," which seems to run contrary to the foundation of a lot of his current success. "Always Hate Me" is a breakup song about the pain of seeing an ex with a new significant other, and then runs into an apology to the ex. The track is actually very well composed for a pop song. "Postcards" is another ukulele driven track, though there are some parts (including the intro) that are much more piano-centric. "Blue on Blue" closes out the album, and is a very melancholy track that strongly reminds me of Bob Dylan for some reason.
Lyrics — 7
James Blunt's vocals are performed very skillfully, and the processing used is applied very skillfully as well. You can't fault any part of his vocal performance, though my favorite pieces of his performance were when his voice sounded mostly stripped of processing and he sounded a little bit like Elton John. The lyrics from the album are about what we've grown to expect from James Blunt, with a large majority of his lyrics focused on love and heartbreak. As a sample of the lyrics from the album, here is an excerpt from the lead single "Bonfire Heart": "Your mouth is a revolver/ firing bullets in the sky/ your love is like a soldier/ loyal til you die/ and I've been looking at the stars/ for a long, long time/ I've been putting out fires/ all my life/ everybody wants a flame/ they don't want to get burnt/ and today is our turn." Honestly, I wasn't overly impressed with his lyrics, and thought that the lyrics from his first two albums were much better than what he has done lately.
Overall Impression — 7
There are a few things about James Blunt that I can't really look past that makes it hard for me to completely appreciate what he does. The first thing is that not a single song on the album was written exclusively by James Blunt. The second thing is that his college thesis was titled "The Commodification of Image - Production of a Pop Idol," which was basically a study on how to create and sell an image in pop culture. The third thing is that I feel like 90% of the music he releases is filler designed to give his singles a reason to be released as an album. My favorite tracks on the album are "Satellites" and "Sun on Sunday," but honestly they were just mediocre to me. I'm not a huge fan of James Blunt, but for a pop artist the album wasn't bad.