Album review: James Blunt’s ‘Some Kind of Trouble’

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“Everything that I’m trying to say/ Just sounds like a worn-out cliché,” James Blunt sings on “I’ll Be Your Man,” a track off his new album, “Some Kind of Trouble” — and he appears to be heading naysayers off at the pass. Then again, the Britain-bred singer-songwriter has never been a critics’ darling: His smash hit “You’re Beautiful” and accompanying 2004 album “Back to Bedlam” set the platinum standard for edgeless adult pop. But Blunt’s 2007 sophomore effort, “All the Lost Souls” added a darker, reflective bent that explored the travails of fame — and subsequently sold well under half its predecessor.

“Some Kind of Trouble” attempts to correct that, yet overreaches in its slickness and underachieves in terms of inspiration. Though Blunt is assisted here in songwriting and production by hit makers Ryan Tedder (OneRepublic, Leona Lewis), Steve Robson (Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts), and Greg Kurstin (Lily Allen, Britney Spears), the results prove more professional than irresistible. Despite some subtle variances—tame confessionals like “No Tears” and “Superstar,” the libidinous dirge “Turn Me On” — “Some Kind of Trouble” rarely strays from formula: ’70s-style soft rock à la Christopher Cross and Al Stewart, occasionally updated with messianic Coldplay-isms and pulsing rave synths seemingly influenced by Blunt’s residence on the Spanish party island Ibiza.

All could be forgiven, however, if Blunt’s latest material proved catchier. There’s a kind of genius to “You’re Beautiful”: despite a significant schmaltz quotient, once its hooks kick in, the song becomes an effortless earworm. Here, Blunt’s everyhunk desire to please initially seems appealing, his plain singing style unpretentiously sincere — but it’s hard to remember a chorus after numerous listens. Despite all the work put into his workmanlike pop, it ultimately comes off as agreeable, but not memorable.

—Matt Diehl

James Blunt
“Some Kind of Trouble”
Two stars (Out of four)