Blunt talk: On new music, royal wedding, touringWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
James Blunt is amped up about his new disc, “Some Kind of Trouble.”
“I’ve written some pretty melancholic tunes before but that was because I was limited to the acoustic guitar,” the singer-songwriter said. “Now I’m on the electric. The album sounds upbeat and energetic.”
And happy. Listen to the first single, “Stay the Night.”
“It’s a really fun song, which I worked out in California with Ryan Tedder and Steve Robson and, of course, Bob Marley,” Blunt said of the song that references the reggae legend’s “Is This Love.” “It just really captures hanging out with your friends and not wanting the night to end.”
Blunt and Robson hung out a lot while making the disc.
“I was supposed to meet [Robson] for a beer, and he was playing the piano and I picked up an electric guitar, and we just wrote [‘Dangerous’] then and there,” Blunt said. “I hadn’t written on the electric for many years because most of my time in the army I was always traveling and it was impractical to take an amplifier anywhere; there’s nowhere to plug my amp in my tank.
“And songs just started coming and the demos sounded good,” he continued during a call from Stuttgart, Germany, after a sound check. “What was supposed to be a beer turned into a year in the studio, and we finished the album actually in 14 months.”
He talked about another new song, “Superstar.”
“It’s the story of a teenager in today’s world, but you know it could be your perception of the world as well, which is how we play along with a lot of TV nowadays, full of these reality TV shows about becoming famous. And all our children, if you ask them what they want to do, they say I want to be rich and famous because that’s what our TV shows tell our children is the measure of success,” Blunt said.
“[‘Superstar’ is] a story of a teenager saying, ‘I don’t want to read all these magazines telling me what clothes to wear, I don’t want to be told what music to like, I don’t want to measure success in fame and fortune.’ Instead he wants to be an individual and choose his own path. I think that’s definitely an idea I could relate to and I would imagine lots of people could relate to in this day and age.”
Blunt burst onto the U.S. music scene with the hit “You’re Beautiful” from his 2005 debut, “Back to Bedlam.” He received five Grammy nominations for that disc and song.
Suddenly, the former British army officer was pegged as “a sensitive singer-songwriter.”
“ ‘Sensitive’ always sounds like an effeminate quality. I think I was sensitive as a soldier, as all soldiers are, because you have to be sensitive, aware, of your surroundings,” the 37-year-old said. “As an observer, one has to be aware. And then I comprehend it, translate it and express it, so that defines your character, I suppose.”
Being a character landed Blunt in the news recently when he jokingly told a reporter he would be playing the royal wedding.
“There’s been a fascination with certain goings-on in Britain that have nothing to do with my job, but every current British musician at the moment is being asked the same question and, eventually, you think, well, I’m going to have some fun with this,” he said and laughed.
While he won’t be performing for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s big day, he will be at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor for a 7:30 p.m. show April 27. Tickets are $45, $33.50 and $25.
“I’m bowled over about playing live all the time because I think it’s such an amazing form of expression and communication,” he said. “I’m on a 13-month world tour playing in countries where people don’t even understand my own language, yet the music itself is all the language we need to communicate. I’m blown away by that, how you can explain and describe your own thoughts in song and a voice in your head and others will be dragged in on that emotional journey.”