on 28 October 2007
A multi-instrumentalist - and dulcet voiced to boot, Ed Harcourt may or may not have registered on your consciousness. I was aware of him a number of years ago, but until a recommendation and a chance purchase of From Every Sphere a couple of years back, when I was feeling vaguely daring at Virgin Megastore during a 5 for 30 quid promo - I hadn't heard anything by him. Buying that CD literally changed my life. I was knocked for six by it, it was warm, earthy, emotional, romantic, dark and intense. The titletrack slayed me.
Since that happy accident, I have bought everything this man has ever put out. This Best of includes a bonus CD too. Can I suggest that committed fan or a curious newbie, you buy this either way? Ed is a great song writer, and generates a lot of warmth, character and variety into his songs. He's not afraid of experimenting, or injecting eccentric themes into his music, as well as the more traditional tales of love, loss, isolation that musicians sing about. His love of unusual instruments manifests itself beautifully on the titletrack of this Best Of, where he uses an optigan ( I think that's what it's called?!) which is a love song about what he'd miss if the world ended.
Songs are predominantly piano and guitar based, but never, ever bland. ' She Fell Into Arms' has one of my fave lyrics ever ' There's a thousand things, I shouldn't do. But if I do them I should do them with you'. There is a lot of soul in his songs, he's pretty soulful indeed, his voice is a lovely whispher on ' Something In My Eye'and then by contrast 'Loneliness' is a crazy belter of a track and should have been a huge hit. I think sometimes he's suffered as he's impossible to categorise or pigeonhole, but maybe that's why I love him so? He's a unique, gifted fella and it's always exciting to see what he's going to come up with. He got compared to Tom Waits a lot earlier in his career. I suppose ' Whistle of a distant train' contains that romantic lyricism reminiscent of Wait's work, but to leave a comparison alone on Waits is pretty darn lazy. Ed is his own man. He's one of the last great romantics of English music, a talent to cherish and celebrate, and recently I discovered he does a great impersonation of The Elephant Man : ) Buy this CD, thank me later and if you are disappointed, then come back and tell me why... : )