About The Artist
The Set List
Wal-Mart Soundcheck recently caught up with British singing-songwriting sensation James Blunt. 2006 was a spectacular year for the sensitive folk rocker: Blunt's smash radio hit, 'You're Beautiful,' made him the first British artist to top the U.S. singles chart in nearly a decade, his debut album, 'Back to Bedlam,' sold 14 million copies worldwide and he was nominated for five Grammy awards. Many artists would feel a certain amount of pressure to follow up such a monumental debut, but not Blunt. Instead of writing another 'You're Beautiful,' the talented Brit took time to create a sophomore album that's an accomplished, complete body of work - and not just a goldmine of singles. Like the '70s rock albums James reveres, 'All The Lost Souls' succeeds as a singular experience; an introspective disc that captures the sounds of past and present. (The first single has even been remixed by DJs for the clubs.) James previewed four songs from the new record for Soundcheck, plus one classic, and they're an indication that this is a serious artist who's in it for the long haul.
On Singing the Praises of the '70s
Produced and mixed by American composer Tom Rothrock (who also helmed James' debut), 'All The Lost Souls' sounds like it could have been recorded in Laurel Canyon circa 1975. We asked James about the intentional decision to make an old-fashioned sounding record that tells a sequential story. He explains: "It's something that can be put on, press play and listened to in its entirety. It's really inspired by the way they recorded albums in the '70s. We did it the same way they did then. We'd go in a studio, five of us in the band and the producer... facing each other. We really tried to capture a performance... a live feel where there's little between us as musicians and the tape we're recording on. The result is an album that has a little bit of heart and soul."
On the Unlikely Inspiration of Ibiza
Each summer, thousands of tourists (mostly British) flock to a decadent Balearic island in the Mediterranean Sea: Ibiza. Known for its all-night parties and celebrity homes, Ibiza doesn't sound like the ideal destination to record a ballad-heavy album. Explains James: "It's a big old party island. I'd go out at night and come back at some dodgy time of the morning and write songs and they were normally more the up-tempo and celebratory songs. And then I went back in the winter and it was really quiet. All the bars and clubs and restaurants are all shut, and there's no-one there at all apart from a few local Spanish farmers. Through the cold and the wet, through the winter, I sat there really secluded on my own and wrote songs again. It was a great chance to be away from the noise of the media and the music industry, and be alone again and write songs that mean a lot to me from a human perspective."
On Discovering His Dream
Growing up with a strict army upbringing, James had little exposure to music. After a successful career in the army, James eventually decided to pursue his lifelong dream and write, record and perform music. We asked him about the journey from the barracks to the recording studio. He told us: "I had played instruments all my life and I started writing songs when I was about 14. From that moment on I knew I was going to be a professional musician, but at some stage I got a day job and I joined the army for six years. I left that about six years ago... It was a pretty simple job of just walking up to my boss and resigning. I had no choice because I really felt I had a dream I really needed to follow."
The stirring themes on James Blunt's new album, 'All The Lost Souls,' showcase an artist in transition. Fresh from the success of 'Back to Bedlam,' the singer-songwriter has had time to reflect on his newfound fame and is, in his own words, learning to quiet the "noise that comes with media attention". Emotional and poignant, 'All The Lost Souls' is a brave, beautiful album. It's sure to find James a new set of fans interested in a less polished, "stripped down" sound, and satisfy his millions of existing fans. Enjoy the exclusive set � and pick up 'All The Lost Souls' in Wal-Mart stores nationwide.
-The Crew at Wal-Mart Soundcheck
Did You Know?
- James Blount (Blunt is his stage name) was born in Wiltshire, England on February 22, 1974
- He replaced guns for guitars. Before he became an award-winning musician, James was a Captain in the Household Cavalry of the British Army for six years. He wrote 'Back to Bedlam's' closing track, 'No Bravery,' during his time served in Kosovo in 1999.
- Despite his military triumphs, James credits the decision to enlist as more of his father's choice. Members of the Blount family have served in various armies since 995 AD.
- A British newspaper recently reported that James' mega-hit, 'You're Beautiful,' is the most popular wedding song in England.
- He knows how to fly a plane. Educated at boarding schools since the tender age of 7, James received his pilot's license at age 16.
- When he first came to California to record his debut album, he stayed at the Hollywood Hills home of 'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia). He wrote the song 'Goodbye, My Lover' on a piano in her bathroom.
The first single from 'All The Lost Souls,' co-written with acclaimed producer Mark Batson, is inspired by one of James' favorite Ibiza clubs: Pacha. '1973' recently received a remix from one of the nightclub's most celebrated DJs, Pete Tong, and plays regularly at the dance house. An ode to a mystery woman named 'Simone,' James sings: "Simone, you're getting older. Your journey's been etched on your skin. Simone, wish I had known that what seemed so strong has been and gone..."
I Really Want You
Images of war and destruction abound in James Blunt's music. Indeed, many of his music videos pay tribute to a bloody past spent waging war in Kosovo. It's an image ill at ease with the sensitive songwriter's music, but, in many songs from the new opus, war becomes a fitting metaphor for romantic disillusionment. Armed with just a guitar and piano accompaniment, James sings a self-penned tale that's both beautiful and tragic: "Are there silver shores on paradise? Can I come in from the cold? I killed a man in a far away land, my enemy I'm told. I really want you to really want me, but I really don't know if you can do that."
One of the Brightest Stars
Co-written with Steve McEwan, 'One of the Brightest Stars' is a signature Blunt melody with acoustic chords and an emotional chorus that'll imprint itself on your brain after a few spins. Lyrically, the song speaks about following your dream and finding fame on your own. And though he's addressing someone else, 'One of the Brightest Stars' feels strongly autobiographical, as if James is cryptically discounting the detractors of his own ambitions: "And they'll say told you so. We were the ones who saw you first of all. We always knew that you were one of the brightest stars."
"I'm not calling for a second chance, I'm screaming at the top of my voice", sings James in this self-penned tune from 'All The Lost Souls.' Louder and rockier than earlier cuts from his set, 'Same Mistake' has James' voice growing to a growl; it's both an impassioned plea and a cry for help. With Blunt's heartfelt vocals set to just piano and guitar, the song gains in momentum quickly, as the ex-soldier revisits difficult memories from his past: "Saw the world turning in my sheets and once again I cannot sleep. Walk out the door and up the street, look at the stars beneath my feet."
Goodbye, My Lover
James wraps up his set with a signature tune: 'Goodbye, My Lover' from the artist's debut album, 'Back to Bedlam.' Co-written with Sacha Skarbek, the tune entered into the American consciousness after an affecting performance last year on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Today, James performs a similar rendition of 'Goodbye, My Lover,' a searing acoustic version that conveys the angst of a terminal affair: "Goodbye my lover. Goodbye my friend. You have been the one. You have been the one for me."