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James Blunt brings balancing act to Vancouver

Published in the Vancouver Sun on May 10, 2011.


James Blunt is like the middle child in a family of radio superstars and soft-rock indie darlings: He seems to get lost in the fuss over his more defined siblings.

Blunt, a British cavalry captain-turned-musician, straddles the border of Top 40 buzz and folky singer-songwriter obscurity. (In the U.K., it’s a bit of a different story: the five-time Grammy nominee is tabloid fodder.) Known for the songbird-esque quiver in his voice, Blunt isn’t the type of musician to sell out Rogers Arena in 10 minutes, or produce consistent and anticipated No. 1 hits for American charts.

On one hand, his songs are elemental, personal, unpolished emotion, avoiding the overly jangly or super-sweet lacquer that earns you pop fame. But then you take into account the 37-year-old’s nauseatingly cute hit, You’re Beautiful, off his multi-platinum debut Back To Bedlam, and other big money-makers like 1973 off 2007’s All The Lost Souls. They’ve burrowed deep into North Americans’ ears, earning him mainstream staying power and a few accolades.

On paper, Blunt’s music seems to be the best of both worlds — with three albums, two world tours and 18 million records. But he just doesn’t get the hype that similarly successful artists do. In short, Blunt’s the guy you hear killing time on the radio when DJs have already played that godawful Britney song 10 times in the past hour.

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