With four high chart-topping studio albums under his name, the British pop singer James Blunt aims for a positive return with his fifth album, The Afterlove, which was released almost four years after his last album, Moon Landing.
The Afterlove begins with three tracks, “Love Me Better,” “Bartender,” and “Lose My Number.” The arrangements of these songs delivers pretty much everything recent pop music already has had to offer. James Blunt simply doesn’t deliver anything exciting or unique that stands out. Any listeners expecting James Blunt to immediately offer something different and fresh would surely feel let down here.
The album puts on the brakes and James Blunt shows his softer side with the song, “Don’t Give Me Those Eyes.” It’s around this point of The Afterlove that James Blunt begins to show a more genuine delivery with his music. The four-minute track has a respectable melody and overall instrumental arrangement that emits a heartfelt atmosphere, but the quality of the lyrics may not be strong enough to earn the respect of the more critical music fans. “Someone Singing Along” has a fairly groovy sound, with a steady beat and a catchy chorus that should get listeners to nod their head and tap their feet. “California” hears James Blunt use some indie and 80s pop elements, but the theme of the song surrounding the glorification of the west coast might bore some listeners. “Make Me Better” hears a more minimalistic arrangement that builds up and rich lyrics, and it all sounds good. It kind of makes sense that the quality is particularly high here, because look who co-wrote and produced the single: That’s right, it’s the lovable Ed Sheeran! He also co-wrote the next track, “Time of Our Lives.” This particular track. which was released as a Valentine’s Day promotional single, has a strong dreamy atmosphere with just the right arrangement, resulting in a happy, stress-free love song.
“Time of Our Lives” sets up The Afterlove for its finale, first with “Heartbeat” which hears a gloomy vibe, and “Paradise,” an up-beat feel-good track.
The extended version of the album offers three additional tracks. The first one is “Courtney’s Song,” a four minute song about letting go. It initially starts off sad and ends with a little uplifting vibe to make the feeling of letting go difficult but possible. The second bonus track is “2005,” another song with a minimalistic arrangement that is in response to a song that he released in 2005. You know, that one. The final track of the extended version, “Over,” is an up-beat post-breakup song that helps conquers the feeling of knowing you’ve been cheated on.
Overall, James Blunt’s The Afterlove is nothing but a disappointment. The album certainly has some bright moments and it just so happens that two of the songs in this album that I mildly like involves Ed Sheeran. The Afterlove fails to show any unique, James Blunt-esque style, and instead is just a collection featuring an uninspiring chunk of songs pop radio already had to offer. There’s no doubt that this album will continue to soar up the charts, but listeners who are expecting something new, fresh, and different will very likely feel let down.
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