Sunday, December 13, 2020

James Bourne - Safe Journey Home album review

James Bourne who is perhaps best know as one third of the band Busted has had a varied musical career and he has returned with his newest solo project and his new album Safe Journey Home. 

The album opens with the song ‘Everyone Is My Friend’ which feels like a perfect opening for the album to set the feeling of what to expect from the album. The song is filled with acoustic guitar and has a very relaxed and lounge style feel to it; and it sets the tone to make it clear that this album isn’t going to be the usual pop rock sound that we expect from Bourne based on his work with Busted and his other projects; this album is Bourne’s brainchild and it’s a different style. 

The song is almost an easing into the different sound we can expect from Bourne and his solo project. The song does contain a wonderful lyric and perhaps my personal favourite lyric of all time - ‘music heals the hardest heart, picks you up when you fall apart’ it’s simple in its message but so beautiful and poignant and to set that message out in the opening of the album feels like Bourne laying out the personal connection to this album. Overall, this song is a real feel good opening to the album it sets a tone for what’s to come and it feels like Bourne is letting the listener in because the song almost feels like you’re just sitting in a garden whilst Bourne plays the song and just vibes with it. 

Up next is ‘Drive’, and the song feels like an embodiment of its name, it’s a song that you tap your feet or bop your head too with its underlying drum beat that you just follow along with. It’s the sort of song that you listen to and can picture yourself being in your car, this song playing in the background with the volume turned up, the windows down and a breeze blowing past as the sun shines down and your tapping your fingers against the steering wheel or the cars edges with your hand on the windowsill as you drive to wherever the mood takes you. 

The track ‘Unknown’ is what seems to be a comment on the current social climate and how in this day and age everyone seems to want their 15 minutes of fame and the attention and ‘celebrity status’ which is expressed in the lyric ‘everyone wants to be famous, everyone wants to be a star’ that demonstrates the desires of most of society. But there is a sadness in this desire that is reflected in the lyric ‘scared of being unknown’ and how in this current climate where ‘fame’ is seemingly so easy to come by, everyone now wants their chance at it and wants their moment in the spotlight and that these days there’s a certain fear of not being famous and that people seem to think being unknown and not being in the public consciousness is somehow a bad thing and to be avoided at all costs. This song feels like a sad song but sad in two ways because there is the sadness of the people who strive for fame and their sadness and fear of being unknown; but their is also a reflection of sadness for the people who are like this and a sad pity that this is what the world has come too and that people are scared to be unknown. 

‘These Streets Know Me Well’ is an upbeat and all round feel good song that just gets stuck in your head, it’s got an infectious overriding beat that just burrows into your mind and keeps popping back to the forefront and you find yourself singing randomly through your day. It’s a somewhat comforting song there’s a sense of comfort from Bourne’s part as it feels like the song is about a place that feels like home for him and that there is a certain safety net of recognition on the streets that is reflected in the song. There is something about the song that feels familiar, the sound feels like something you know and have heard before and it seems to wrap you up in the sound and as the streets of the song know Bourne, the listener feels like the song itself knows them and draws them in to its comforting sound. 

The song language feels like a love song with lyrics such as ‘words don’t come easily, but we got a chemistry’, ‘I wanna learn your language until I understand it’ and ‘I wanna learn your language and know you inside out’ the lyrics seem to express the lengths we go to when we truly care for and love someone. The song demonstrates the love language of how you do whatever you can to learn about the one you love, the commitment and care you put into making the effort to understand all you can about the person you care about and the dedication from one person to another through their love for that person. 

The album also seems to have a few songs that are a nod to Bourne’s personal influences and loves in his life with songs ‘The Beatles’ and ‘Batman’s House’ with reference to a musical influence and an element of pop culture which Bourne is a fan of and they seem to almost flow into each other and connect up together. 

‘The Beatles’ is a song of appreciation and a homage to a band that mean a lot to both Bourne and the world with lyrics such ‘they gave us rock and roll, they knew how to put on a show’ and ‘they were the best band in the world’ the song itself has an almost psychedelic soundscape feel to it perhaps a conscious decision to perhaps reflect the 60’s and 70’s time period of the Beatles. The song is an expression of Bourne’s appreciation for the band and and demonstration of how they’ve been a part of his life and impacted him and they’ve clearly been a big influence on him and his musical career. 

‘Batman’s House’ follows on from this on the album and seemingly follows on in terms of the mini story being told. The song feels like a representation of Bourne’s life and that Batman’s house is a literal and metaphorical representation of his career as shown in the lyric ‘but how did I end up here’ which feels like a reference to the path of Bourne’s own life and career and how he became the star he is, the feel that Batman’s house is a metaphor comes in the lyric ‘time goes by, three decades or so, it doesn’t seem real’ and that as time has passed and Bourne’s life and career have progressed, the way things have happened and the life he has had is somewhat of a shock to him and he can’t believe things have turned out as they had. The Beatles and Batman’s house feel connected with the former being the start of his life and his beginnings and the latter being where his life has progressed and lead him too. 

‘Time Kills Us All’ is a song with more of a sombre feel to it, it feels like a sad reminder and a wake up call to everyone to not take time for granted. The lyric ‘my friends all have kids of their own, but I’m still a kid overgrown’ shows the fear of the passage of time and how time seems to be slipping away and life is passing us by so quickly and it’s scary. The song shows how life is short and time is not always on our side and we need to make the most of it because ‘it’s running out, time kills us all’ the song not only feels like an unspoken warning but also as a song of advice on not taking time for granted and making the most of what time we have. 

My personal favourite from the album is ‘Somebody Else’s Problem’ even though it’s a song about heartache and loss there’s something special about it and it doesn’t feel like a song that will get you down. The lyrics whilst expressing loss and sadness such as ‘you feel the worst, it’s been a long time coming down’ there is also the element of hope within the song seen in the lyric ‘I know it’s hard, it hurts, but you can’t stay home with the curtains closed’ it feels like someone understands because there is the acknowledgment of the difficulty and the hurt but also the point of not letting yourself dwell on the pain and not wallowing in the sadness because it’s not a good thing to do. 

Bourne himself has said that fans of his previous songs ‘sleeping with the light on’ and ‘everything I knew’ would be likely to enjoy this number and I can say that sleeping with the light on is my favourite Busted song and Somebody Else’s problem is a song I’ve found myself drawn back to from the album. It has a similar quality to the songs it’s been compared too in that they too were songs about heartache and sadness that somehow didn’t leave you feeling down or upset when listening to them. They are all slow songs that you can feel yourself swaying along too but rather than the lyrics and the sadness behind them being the focus, somehow the softness of the song and the beauty of the sound are what become the focal point and there’s a certain magic in the ability to do that and in the song itself. 

The album then ends with the title track ‘Safe Journey Home’ and it feels like a closing number it rounds off the album and also sets itself up as a song waiting to be played live it feels like the final song of the setlist and the song to end the performance on. It’s got softer tones during the verses as a kind of gentle return to reality for listeners and audiences who’ve been in this little bubble of music, but then there are also the upbeat and pop rock esque sounds in the chorus and the latter half of the song to keep the power and the energy alive and to close a live show on a high and give that last little bit of buzz to listeners and audiences. The lyrics seem fitting for a live performance too with lines such as ‘I hope you’ve had the time of your life’, ‘safe journey home, good times, good night’ and ‘the lights tell you it’s time to go’ all classic elements of live shows with artists wanting to give audiences the best time possible, make sure they’ve had a good time and then finally when the show ends and the house lights go up and you know it’s time to go. It’s a perfect final song for both a live show and for the album it’s closes the moment off until next time and does it in style. 

The album really is a masterpiece of music and really showcases Bourne’s talent as a singer, songwriter and a musician. It’s something different musically to what most people expect from Bourne and it demonstrates a much welcomed different side to his talents. The album is a real thing of beauty and has real potential to be a timeless classic like so many of his other projects, Bourne has a gift for producing music that stands the test of time and this new album is no exception. Whether you’re a lifelong fan of his music, a newer member of his fan base or someone who’s never heard of him before, this album is a must listen and one you’ll be guaranteed to come back too again and again. 

- Georgina Shine 


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