Archive for Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Blunt edge

British pop star woos American audiences with understated sound, piercing lyrics

March 28, 2006


James Blunt is about to learn a little about Kansas.

Everything the British singer-songwriter, who plays a sold-out show Wednesday at Liberty Hall, knows about the state he learned from being in a stage production of "The Wizard of Oz."

"I guess I was about 9," he says. "I was a Munchkin farmer."

Blunt, who is on his first American tour, has learned a lot recently about the United States, fame and the music industry.

His first single, "You're Beautiful," spent five weeks at the top of the British charts last summer before being released in the United States. The single also hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts, making Blunt the first British artist since 1997 to have a top song here.

His debut album, "Back to Bedlam," was recorded after a four-year stint with the British Army, including a year as a captain in Kosovo. It was the second-best-selling record in the United States last week.

Blunt, 29, is calling from Cleveland, the ninth stop on a world tour that also includes Australia, Japan, Mexico and much of Europe.

"The album's been out for a while in the UK," he says. "It's been quite fun coming to a place where the songs aren't known and the audience is new. It reminds me of the first time I played back at home, and it allows me to rediscover the songs."

Blunt's brand of pop is highlighted by his distinctive voice, which often climbs to high registers and does little to hide his British accent. One recent review said it sounded as if his underpants were on a bit too tight.

American audiences are most familiar with "You're Beautiful," which tells of locking eyes with a beautiful stranger on the subway. But Blunt says he's looking forward to fans moving beyond the first single. "Goodbye My Lover," the second single released from the album, is at 66 and climbing the Billboard charts.

"People are coming to me saying 'You're Beautiful' isn't their favorite song on the album," Blunt says. "'You're Beautiful' is about a two-second incident. There are many other songs which are much more meaningful and long-lasting and rewarding in that way.

"And so I think they'll recognize it's just one song on an album of 10 songs. The album was also constructed to be heard as an album and not just focused on one particular song."

Blunt joins a handful of other UK acts - including Franz Ferdinand and Coldplay - that are enjoying success in the United States.

"I guess maybe we approach it the wrong way," he says of his countrymen coming to the United States. "Often, I think, we come out here from England or Britain and say we're coming here to break America or conquer the United States. And I think, quite understandably, Americans don't want to be broken. They don't want to be conquered, so (they say), 'Why don't you go home?'"

Blunt has recently been a focus of British tabloids. One, last weekend, reported he was having difficulty in his relationship with girlfriend Camilla Boler because of his hectic touring schedule. And many have written about a dispute with a former producer over royalties on Blunt's songs.

Past Event
SOLD OUT: James Blunt

with The Boy Least Likely To / Sierra Swan

  • When: Wednesday, March 29, 2006, 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Liberty Hall Cinema, 644 Massachussets Street, Lawrence
  • Cost: $25
  • More on this event....

"I set out to be a musician," Blunt says. "I still do music, and that is what I do as a way of life. I never set out to be famous. I don't really enjoy the notion of celebrity. I think it's a confused and ugly subject, and so I don't really involve myself with tabloids, because it's like curtain twitching. I think private lives are private lives."

Blunt would prefer if the insights into his private life came from his lyrics.

"Most of these songs are written about personal experience," he says. "And it's kind of heartwarming because these people can see these songs applying to their lives as well."


who_do_u_want_me_2_be 12 years, 3 months ago

Well, I know why this town is going to be hotter for the next so many hours.

And make that a "Oh, yes, yes"..snicker

staff04 12 years, 3 months ago

I'm going to the show. They say he is a real panty-dropper...

kansas_prairieland 12 years, 3 months ago

......oh, and one more thing........

Yet another truly lame Wizard of Oz reference when it comes to someone talking about what they know and/or have heard about Kansas.

It's really kinda sad, you know?

ben_ness 12 years, 3 months ago

Staff04 - I am laughing my ass off right now.......

Kelly Powell 12 years, 3 months ago

i want to take him on a tour of kansas he wont forget ....Namely every dive bar in the desoto/bonnersprings area.....If he survives he wont put kansas and wizard of oz together ever again.

Lorenzo_Teris 12 years, 3 months ago

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badger 12 years, 3 months ago

I just keep thinking, "He was a munchkin farmer" and giggling to myself.

Ah, the life of the independent munchkin farmer is a fine thing indeed. Up with the munchkins at dawn to check that they're all nestled securely in the munchkin coop, then letting them out and scattering some lollipops about for them to scratch and peck at. Collecting the eggs, some to incubate and some to sell for a little side money, making sure you've got a scarecrow and a little girl up on posts to keep away the witches while you help the munchkins into fresh tiny overalls and pinafores, and watching them all run around worriedly every time a house flies over. Then, at sunset, tucking them back into their munchkin coop and singing them to sleep.

Idyllic, really. It's such a tragedy that the corporate munchkin farms are crowding out the independent ones.

Confrontation 12 years, 3 months ago

Lorenzo-Just thought you should speak in an adult manner, since you like to call other people childish. The LJWorld site monitor must have agreed with me.

jayhawk2000 12 years, 3 months ago

The headline got it backwards, it should be 'piercing sound, understated lyrics'

kansas_prairieland 12 years, 3 months ago

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kansas_prairieland 12 years, 3 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Confrontation 12 years, 3 months ago

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