It now feels like a lifetime ago when Brit singer-songwriter James Blunt ruled the pop charts in 2005 with the ubiquitous “You’re Beautiful.” After falling off the radar on these shores, he’s back with his fourth record, but this is not the reinvention Blunt so sorely needs. The same problems that plagued his past work, including his breakthrough “Back to Bedlam,” bleed into these tracks. The songs are filled with transparent lyrical ideas and an arid musical mix. Most problematic, he shows very little emotional or artistic growth. Unfortunately, Blunt’s reedy voice is still an acquired taste. At times, he sounds like a vulnerable romantic poet (“Bonfire Heart”) yet elsewhere he can come off like the alley cat in heat making sleep impossible (“Always Hate Me”). His tribute to Whitney Houston, “Miss America,” is well-intentioned and heartfelt despite borrowing heavily from Elton John, and there are some sweetly rendered love songs (“Sun on Sunday”). Still, most of this is too wan to give Blunt a career boost. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Bonfire Heart”Ken Capobianco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.