“A very happy-sounding, unashamedly bouncy pop-rock song that’s already aced the Toe-Tappable Test”
Digital Release: May 23, 2011
Physical Release: June 26, 2011
There are many things you can commend about James Blunt, but alas, the majority of them lead to a bittersweet aftertaste that doesn’t oblige such commendation. For example, one could commend his persistence to replicate the success he garnered around his début album, with the cloy ‘You’re Beautiful’, and it’s also commendable that he continually plays to his strengths whilst trying to do so, but James Blunt’s strengths consist of Train-esque soft-rock perfunctories with little or no imagination, so why commend that?
Tying that into his new release, the fourth single from his third album, ‘I’ll Be Your Man’, and James is still peddling the same soft-rock sound, with a chugging acoustic guitar and a chorus that imitates Corinne Bailey-Rae’s ‘Girl, Put Your Record On’ a little too closely for comfort. It’s supposedly a “feel-good” record, one which sees Blunt chase after his youth a little bit, or an excuse for a quick twitch of the pelvis, which again is commendable enough to those who make much of his “charm”, but to those of us unsmitten, do you really want to hear him ask you to “let your hands feel the way”? And asking you to “slide over here” may seem like a staple seduction with all the romantic qualities one should hope for, but what’s wrong with him sliding himself five feet in the other direction? Let’s not be lazy now, James.
I suppose the underlying vibe f this track – and many others in James’ back-catalogue – is that whilst it’s still a very happy-sounding, unashamedly bouncy pop-rock song that’s already aced the Toe-Tappable Test, it sounds very samey, and that repetitiveness throughout his songs leads to an erosion of the emotion and the enjoyability, especially if ‘I’ll Be Your Man’ lends itself as quite a bit more than just a homage to the sound of John Mellencamp, to the point were it becomes caricature.
Nevertheless, ‘I’ll Be Your Man’ is one of James stronger efforts of recent times. Even with all the nuances of his irritating musical staple, one can’t help but find themselves either smiling or cringing throughout the duration of ‘I’ll Be Your Man’, and even though that may seem like a bizarre thing to add to the James Blunt Commendation Pile, at least the song evokes an actual reaction, which is more than can be said for the majority of today’s chart music. And speaking of the chart, I feel obliged to conclude by mentioning that that is certainly not where ‘I’ll Be Your Man’ is heading.