Harcourt's a Stranger in the Night!
Ed's fallen in love and all the confusion and excitement you feel on the brink of a new romance has manifested itself in his new album "Strangers". And why not? What a change it makes to hear love songs about the dawn of a wonderful relationship rather than the usual "you've broken my heart and now I've got to sing about it" affairs that as listeners we are subjected to.
With a Mercury nomination for "Here be Monsters" in 2001 and his last album "From Every Sphere" being released to critical acclaim, you can't help but think that Ed Harcourt has a lot to live up to, having never quite achieved the mainstream recognition it seems he was destined for. But "Strangers" is anything but mainstream. Rather it swings from the Gorky's Zygotic Mynci sounding "Let love not weigh me down" to the Tom Waits-esque "Something to live for".
A somewhat acoustic album, the production is beautiful. Brass arrangements and orchestral strings put the icing on the cake and polish off what are fundamentally quite basic songs. This for me is the difference between good music and great music. All too often musicians write amazing songs, but then can't leave them alone and fill up the audiosphere with too much fancy and unnecessary guitar solos and redundant programming. Ed Harcourt's voice is very distinctive and is juxtaposed to great effect against straight-up, unfussy songs.
During production Ed was ‘locked away’ in a snowbound studio in the middle of Swedish woodlands and you can hear that reflected in the album. It has a very organic feel much like Harcourt's surroundings whilst recording. Everything about this album feels very natural. These are songs that evolve from raw emotions. As Harcourt says " I drink, I laugh, I cry, I love, I write and sing songs, I pass out".
The more I listen to this album, the more I hear his influences. At times Harcourt sounds like David Bowie, at others like Thom Yorke, whilst all the time remaining true to his own sound. The first single, "This one's for you" is a good indication of how Ed Harcourt is feeling about his new lady. I hope that it does well in the charts as it is high time someone shows the likes of Westlife and Britney, how an artist writes songs about love.