British singer-songwriter James Blunt seeming came out of nowhere a decade ago with his global smash hit “You’re Beautiful” from his debut album.
Since then, Blunt has shown his staying power, releasing three more records, including last year’s “Moon Landing” (Atlantic), and becoming a bit of a heartthrob among millennials.
However, the five-time Grammy nominee’s career has evolved into two tracks: Blunt plays arenas in most places outside the U.S. Here, however, he performs in more intimate spots, including his date 9 p.m. Friday, May 2, at The Music Box at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City.
For Blunt, who launched his world tour on New Year’s Eve in Shanghai and won’t wrap it until next March, such variety is mostly a good thing.
“In the rest of the world, this is the biggest production I’ve ever taken,” he says. “In the states, it’s a much smaller affair. We’re playing much smaller venues. Although not as great for my bank account, it makes for a much more intense and personal concert.”
Ahead of his Borgata show, Blunt discusses how he wrote his latest record for himself and why he’s OK with being a one-hit wonder on this side of the pond.
Q: How did you approach the recording of “Moon Landing?”
A: This time around, I wrote it on more of a personal level without an audience in mind. I recorded it in the same way. I went back and found Tom Rothrock, the producer who recorded the first album, and recorded it that same kind of indie way, because we realized these were very personal songs and we didn’t want to lose the songs in over-production.
Q: Do you still feel like you have to prove yourself with each record?
A: Each album gives a different moment in our lives and means something different. My first is an innocent album. My second was a reaction to being thrown in the public eye and was to go dark with “All the Lost Souls.”
“Some Kind of Trouble” is about embracing my job and enjoying it and writing songs for the tour. The fourth is going back and finding what music really means to me — not as a job — but something that’s important to me, as a means of expression and a way of understanding life.
Q: How should audiences interpret the “Moon Landing” title?
A: It was really the journey of making it. The journey of going and finding Tom and he and I living in a studio in Los Angeles for a year, like we were tucked away in a time capsule. The sound of the album sounds old school and lonely and romantic.
Q: Why did you dedicate the track “Miss America” to the late Whitney Houston. Did you have a personal connection?
A: I never met her. For me, it’s just understanding that relationship between a singer and the audience. For her, it was such an extreme way of people being allowed in and then becoming more critical about the singer of the songs — the person behind them, who people started to watch her downfall and buy magazines to read about her downfall and to go online to follow her downfall, that the story overtook her talent.
Q: “You’re Beautiful” helped make your career. Do you ever feel like it’s limiting to have had such a big hit so early on?
A: If it’s a problem, it’s a pretty good problem to have. For me, it’s been a constant career for 10 years and fourth world tour down and fourth album in. It wouldn’t be what it is now without that song — I’m very lucky. In the states, I’m a one-hit wonder, and that’s all I’m known for. But again, if it’s a problem, it’s a very good problem to have.