Highly anticipated sophomore discs from KT Tunstall and James Blunt

A Blunt assessment of 'All the Lost Souls' and Tunstall's less-than-'Fantastic' follow-up.

KT Tunstall – Drastic Fantastic (Capitol): Here's a young British singer refreshingly absent from the tabloid pages. On Tunstall's second record, her tunes are drama-free and unpretentious, much, one imagines, like the singer herself. But while her hit debut, "Eye to the Telescope," yielded velcro-stick melodies such as "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" and "Suddenly I See," few of this album's cheery, acoustic-based rockers will leave you humming. Best, then, to download its three best songs: "If Only," with a chorus that flutters skyward; "I Don't Want You Now," a brisk busker that scarcely pauses to draw breath; and "Beauty of Uncertainty," an introspective ballad that cuts emotionally deeper than anything she's recorded. More like this please, KT. Grade: C+ – Stephen Humphries

James Blunt – All the Lost Souls (Atlantic/Custard): It's fitting that the first (and best) song on James Blunt's highly anticipated second album is titled "1973." Nearly every song on this album recalls the strangely endearing songwriters of the 1970s. Blunt eerily channels the lilting rhythms of Elton John, the warm and familiar vocals of James Taylor, and, in places, the melancholy of David Bowie. Blunt does, however, need to learn how to turn themes and sighs into full-figured melodies. Though every song is pleasant to hear, too many of the choruses deflate into tunelessness ("Annie") and too many of the hooks are "woo's" or "ooh's" ("Same Mistake"). The pantheon doors are open, but not to almost-greatness. Grade: B – Judy Coleman

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