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James Blunt: All The Lost Souls

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James Blunt gets a lot of grief from people who use "soft rock" as an insult, but he fares a little better when judged on his own terms. As All The Lost Souls makes clear, the former British Army officer actually aspires to be the weepiest, wimpiest, most blue-soundin' S.O.B. in the galaxy, so who can fault him for succeeding triumphantly? All The Lost Souls might be the best "soothing music after a tough day at work" album of the year. As background music, it slays. In the foreground, however, not so much. The opening tracks are the best: "1973" and "One Of The Brightest Stars" approximate the shameless emotionalism of those great pre-disco Bee Gees ballads, with Blunt's vocals melding Robin Gibb's vibrato with Barry Gibb's aching high notes. But once you're done having a good cry over that promotion you didn't get but totally deserved, all that's left is a big, gaping hole where the point of listening to All The Lost Souls used to be.