The quickie bio on James Blunt is short and sweet: Former soldier in the British Army gets discharged, records album with Top 10 hit. Next!
But wait a sec. There is, not surprisingly, a lot more to it than that.
Blunt’s family has a long military tradition, so they weren’t exactly at a loss when it came time to advise the nascent singer/songwriter on a paying profession. “Like any parents, mine wanted me to have a secure job with a regular wage and career prospects,” he explains. “And the one job my father knew of, that he’d had experience of himself, was the army, so he could help me in that direction.”
One of the results of his subsequent tour of duty in Kosovo was “No Bravery,” a rapier-edged report that ends debut album Back to Bedlam on a note far removed from the otherwise placid, dreamy set. “I guess it’s always nice to be able to capture your life’s experiences in a song and hold the emotion in that way,” he says.
Within a year of leaving the army, he was signed to Atlantic/Custard and recording Bedlam in Los Angeles.
A support slot on Elton John’s 2004 tour followed, and Bedlam, led by the enchanting single “You’re Beautiful,” started flying off the shelves, gaining reviews comparing him favorably to the likes of Coldplay and Elliott Smith. This year finds him relentlessly touring the U.S. and Europe as a headliner, with appearances at several high-profile festivals like Coachella also on the slate.
Lest one start throwing about the “overnight sensation” term, however, Blunt says, “Well, I’m 28 now and I’ve been planning this since I was 14 so it’s actually taken a really long time, but when it’s right things move fast.”
And how does his family view his career choice now?
“They’ve been really supportive. They’re my number one fans,” he laughs, “and in fact my mother’s my first stalker.”