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Single Review: James Blunt – ‘Bonfire Heart’

2 min read

I admit that I haven’t paid much attention to James Blunt since 1973.  His debut album Back to Bedlam was enjoyable, but that’s only because I didn’t overplay You’re Beautiful and Goodbye My Lover. This is why that these corny radio staples don’t make me want to rip my eardrums out like everyone else. I appreciate these hits as guilty pleasures only to be sung at karaoke. After several drinks.

JamesBluntBonfireHeartBonfire Heart is the lead single off Blunt’s fourth album, Moon Landing. This track was co-written and produced by Ryan Tedder, the one-man pop-hit songwriting/production machine behind modern pop classics like Apologise, Bleeding Love and Halo.

It isn’t surprising that Blunt draws upon his army experiences again in this song (‘your mouth is a revolver’, ‘your love is like a soldier’). He also appears to be following the trend of glorious, uplifting folk-rock reminiscent of fun.’s Some Nights and Mumford & Sons (note the ‘oh wow’s at the end).

What is surprising is that Blunt sounds less annoying than the wet blanket that sang on Back to Bedlam. He sounds more earnest and self-assured. Blunt has also constructed some nice, thick harmonies that truly explode during the acapella end.

As a result, clear parallels can be drawn between him and the Bee Gees circa 1981. The public were sick of them due to their hits being overplayed, so they both tried something new by toning down their distinctive falsettos, and going for a more folk-rock-pop sound.

Tedder’s organic production, which really shines during the glorious, acoustic-guitar driven bridge, deserves a lot of credit. Listeners can even hear some tape hiss and the sound of someone yelling a countdown during the last few choruses, which seem to remind listeners of good music that wasn’t digital, overproduced, clean and perfect.

Blunt has done well with Bonfire Heart, whose chorus wouldn’t be a bad substitute to Kumbaya at campfires.