So what about All The Lost Souls? Will it change any of that, has he floundered and created 12 identikit 'You're Beautiful' snooze-fests, or perhaps he's got sick of the critics whining and has ditched the acoustic for some glow sticks and a pair of synths? No, perhaps to the annoyance of both fans and detesters, Blunt has merely produced Back To Bedlam mark two, with little innovation or progression from his super smash debut.
Standout tracks 'Carry You Home' and 'Same Mistake' have echoes of 'You're Beautiful' in their stripped, stark nature and should follow the hit into becoming both funeral and wedding dance favourites (Blunt's lyrics are so opaque they could fulfil either role). 'Same Mistake' is a deftly-crafted, swooning anthem that suits Blunt's powerful vocal abilities that he all too often doesn't stretch to their true potential. When he does and he bellows: "I'm not calling for a second chance / I'm screaming at the top of my voice / Give me reason but don't give me a choice because I'll just make the same mistake again," the tune tumbles into a monumental selection of 'wooha-woohs' and crashing drums. 'Carry You Home' is similarly successful as a sensitive ballad that deals with various morbid themes surrounding death over a haunting blend of keys and acoustic strumming.
Meanwhile 'Annie' reveals a lyrical bite that was missing on his debut, as Blunt reflects on his many celebrity conquests since his rise to stardom. The bitterness he purveys as he hollers: "Annie you had your name in the bright lights / I thought I saw your photograph / Having such a laugh in a magazine / did it all come tumbling down," is a side of Blunt that unfortunately remains hidden for the rest of the record. It might even have Paris Hilton and co fretting about whether he's referring to them when he claims they said they would "go down" on him, in what will hopefully be Blunt's first and last lyrical reference to fellatio. Leave the saucy manhood references to Girls Aloud, hey James?
However despite these flushes of sunshine, he elsewhere stumbles to new depths of blandness, with cringe-inducing lyrics and sentiments wetter than the Thames. 'Brightest Stars' is so soft and wimpish that Richard Curtis would spurn it from his latest rom-com and 'I Really Want You' features laughably awful lyrics which, as you may have guessed, tell us that James really wants someone. As Blunt sings the lines "No matter what I say or do / the message isn't getting through," we find ourselves pondering how anybody couldn't get the message after Blunt's repeated whines about how much he desires the mysterious lover.
Blunt all too often sticks to a reliable formula, which is at times pleasant and heart-warming enough, but over the course of an album leaves the listener reaching for the razorblades. It is neither as terrible as some folk will deride it to be, but neither should you go hunting it down the record store expecting anything fresh or exciting. If we had to describe the album in two words it would be with the rather underwhelming description of - just alright.