How Ed Sheeran and other top musicians helped Grammy nominee James Blunt rethink his career

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A viral pop hit is both a blessing and a curse to a musician's career, as British singer-songwriter James Blunt would know.

In 2005, his song "You're Beautiful," became an international hit, playing near-constantly on radio stations across the U.S. and Europe. The song earned Blunt multiple Grammy nominations in 2007 and made him a household name.

But while many people loved his work, some derided Blunt's lyrics, and as a result the artist pulled back.

"After my first album that got a bit of criticism, I probably shut down a little bit," Blunt tells CNBC.

But with the help of what Blunt calls a "dream team," he's getting over the criticism that shook his confidence. His new album, "The Afterlove," marks a change for the professional.

Collaborating with friends and mentors, who happen to be some of the music industry's best artists, has helped Blunt redefine himself.

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The album features work from Ed Sheeran, One Republic lead singer Ryan Tedder, composer Stephan Moccio, and singer-songwriter Maureen McDonald — known professionally as MoZella — who wrote the Miley Cyrus hit "Wrecking Ball.

"We got together in random places all across the world to write it," Blunt says. "For me, this has been a really exciting process."

It took two years and 100 songs for Blunt to come up with the 10 songs that would make it onto "The Afterlove." Normally, it takes the artist 25 songs to develop an album.

These friends and mentors also gave Blunt invaluable advice that helped him grow. Sheeran in particular, who will be touring with Blunt, encouraged him to be candid with his lyrics.

After my first album that got a bit of criticism, I probably shut down a little bit.
James Blunt

"Ed Sheeran is a remarkably open, direct lyricist," he says. "He just opens up and says something honest."

One Republic's Tedder encouraged Blunt to experiment with new sounds and music styles.

"Ryan Tedder said, 'Let's be bold. Let's say things that excite us and confront things head on.'"

"This album is inspired by the people I've worked with," Blunt adds.

A sly lyric on the album's first track shows that the artist is embracing his new career direction.

"I saw you outside a bar," he sings. "I would've said you're beautiful, but I've used that line before."

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