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From Every Sphere
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2005
This album has done so much for me.
I received 'Here Be Monsters' as a gift from my brother for Christmas and was dubious. Believing as I did, that he was more of the David Gray mould (great, but not exactly my favourite). But I loved it and bought this, his second Album. (Technically his third, the EP 'Maplewood' not really an album as such.) I bought it and took it to Paris with me.
I was enjoying the album all week when I went to the Eiffel Tower and watching in the gathering gloom as the lights began to glow... There is a point in the title track "From Every Sphere" where a small explosion goes off on beat. As that happened the tower exploded itself into bright sparkling lights. From that point on my view of the world is slightly different and this album was instrumental in that.
Pointless anecdote I know, but this album is a treasure trove of emotion, musical dexterity and wonderful design. Songs like "All of Your Days Will Be Blessed" and "The Birds Will Sing For Us" make you smile, while "Bleed A River Deep" and "Sister Renee" have, literally made me cry. With samples, programmed beats, harmonious vocals, loud guitars, drums and Bass, sweeping orchestral scores and vignette creating lyrics, there is more than a touch of the Beatles about it's production but every second is never over-egged. In many places so achingly sparse you long for the baroque-esque piano at the centre of all his songs to burst into a full band.
It has served as a theme tune to my life over the last year when a lot has happened. My first long-term relationship, advancing careers and my father battling with Cancer. That alone shows the scope of the music on this album.
Ed is a songwriter born. A blessing in itself. He taps into purely intuitive emotions and exhorates and embellishes them in the most lyrical way imaginable. Music is a touch of the divine in us all and these songs made me realise, a budding musician myself, how important that is.
Any of his albums are a joy but this is absolutely my personal favourite. Full of Bombast and Subtlety, beauty and darkness it makes me want to hear it for the first time all over again.
Thanks again Ed...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2003
Last year EMI predicted the albums that they estimated would be 2003's million-plus sellers. Ed Harcourt was among the hallowed list. If ever an album deserved to elevate it's creator to superstar status then Harcourt's second album-proper, 'From Every Sphere', is most certainly it.
Following 'Here Be Monsters' is a challenge that few would relish. The Sussex singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist's full debut mixed the kind of lovelorn melodies that drew Elliott Smith and Harry Nilsson comparisons, with a darker, gothic (without the goth) edge, reminiscent of Tom Waites in his prime. If anything, From Every Sphere has taken the darker elements of his debut and run with it.
Tracks such as 'Ghostwriter' and 'Undertaker Strut' demonstrate admirably Harcourt's ability to mix true flair with the truly sinsiter. It is an edge that propells him away from the uninspired so-called 'New Acoustic Movement' and into the league dominated by artists of a more three dimensional realm. However,nobody can wirte a love song quite like Harcourt. 'Sister Renee' is as mournful a slice of meloncholy you will hear all year and 'Fireflies Take Flight' is simply gorgeous.
The beauty of this album is the staggering variety. Yes, Harcourt excels at the downbeat, sunkissed piano-led paens to heartache, but in 'Watching Then Sun Come Up', single 'All Of Your Days Will Be Blessed' and 'The Birds Will Sing For Us', he has more than matched the verve and soaring melodies reached on 'Here Be Monster's' 'Hanging With The Wrong Crowd' and 'Apple Of My Eye'.
So will Harcourt be this year's credible artist to achieve that rarest of things: critical and commerical success? Probably not. 'From Every Sphere' may not bettered this year, but Harcourt's dalliances with the gothic and beautiful may mean it escapes notice from the MOR Robbie Williams-buying British public. But to be honest, I'm pleased. Ed Harcourt is the type of artist you're always quite chuffed is your little secret. I'm sure Ed feels that way too.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2003
Combining witty, sorrowful, vitriolic and sentimental lyrics with truly stunning melodies ranging from light, simple hum-along songs to soaring, multi-layered desk-thumping foot-tapping anthems (latest single Watching the Sun Come Up being a prime example), this album has something for everyone. It's true this genius is evidently inspired by the madcap experimentalism of Tom Waits, and this can only be a positive thing. This influence is most noticeable on the adventurous "Ghost Writer" and "Undertaker Strut", two prime examples of Harcourt's fearlessness and flair for the unusual. At the other end of the scale, "Sister Renee" and "Bleed a River Deep" are bittersweet ballads loaded with emotion and gentleness. My personal favourites have got to be "Bittersweetheart" and "The Birds Will Sing For Us" - sweet melodies, Harcourt's beautiful vocals, and with jazzy, catchy rhythms that stay in the head to keep your toes tapping.
As well as huge musical and lyrical talent, this young man's voice is probably his greatest asset, at times velvet-smooth and rich, at others cracked and gravelly, with immense range. Everything about this album is perfect. Once it nears the stereo there's no taking it off. Class.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2003
Much like 'Here Be Monsters' - 'From Every Sphere' opens perfectly. Bittersweat and the birilliant All Of Your Days Will Be Blessed are album highlights along with Watching The Sun Come Up and Fireflies Take Flight. If you liked his first then you will love this. Ed hasn't gone for a 'clean' sound that he so easily could have afforded after the success of his first. Instead it sounds like he has produced this album alot more than his first yet in a way that makes it sound less produced. If you buy the album you will understand what I mean. His voice sounds distant yet every little bit as haunting as Lennons does on Anthology 2. Ed has matured whilst still keeping the style that he established so brillianty on Maplewood and Here Be Monsters. Something only truly gifted artists can do - and Ed is certainly one of those.
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on 17 February 2003
I had always been a fan of Ed Harcourt, his previous album 'Here be monsters' and EP 'Maplewood' were both very good, and this album did not disapoint. This album continues the same sort of sound as heard in his previous releases, but shows development as well, with some quite new and original sounds, such as the inclusion of some electronic drums on a couple of tracks, and some more 'raw' sounding songs. For fans of Ed, this is a perfect follow-up to Here be monsters, and for those who have not heard of him, this is a great starting point for one of England's finest and most underrated songwriters.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 20 September 2004
My first Harcourt purchase and if this is a typical example of his work then it will definately not be the last. A great album covering a mixture of moods and style and unique in every way. Well worth it!
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on 29 August 2014
Talented songwriter.
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9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2003
Everybody knows that Paul was the most talented Beatle. You could always rely on a pretty tune and a carefully placed turn of phrase from Paul, whilst John disappeared up his own arse making Revolution 9. For 33 years now though, the world has been waiting for the solo album that McCartney could have made at his peak in the late sixties, and finally it has arrived. Step aside Paul, here's Ed.
About half of 'From Every Sphere' is classic White Album-era McCartney - all whimsical, piano-driven orchestral melody and sentimental, fragile vocals about admitting that "I love you so". And the rest is equally lovely. 'Watching The Sun Come Up' should have been on the last Ben Folds outing, and the ghost of Tom Waits once again appears in the form of the epic title track and 'Ghostwriter'.
But the pick of the crop is the wonderfully titled 'Metaphorically Yours', which is worth the [price] by itself. Here is a song that is so elegant, accomplished and imbued with that string-laden, parping trombone melancholy that McCartney himself would surely wish he'd written it.
'From Every Sphere' is a hopelessly charming record, and one that threatens to seriously improve with age. McCartney may well have his days of genius well behind him, but Harcourt seems a perfect heir to the throne.
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on 17 April 2015
Very good
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2003
Having been compared to the likes of Tom Waits and Nick Cave, and following on from his Mercury Prize nomination in 2001, much is expected of Harcourt's 2nd "proper" album (the excellent mini debut "Maplewood" will remain forever neglected).
No surprises then that "From Every Sphere" carries on from where "Here Be Monsters" left off; southern bar room honky tonk piano's, New Orleans funeral style brass sections, Cavesque southern gothic themes and the odd woozy harmonica.
Like its predecessor, "From Every Sphere" can be an inconsistent affair at times. For every beautiful moment such as "The Birds Will Sing For Us" with it's country guitar twangs and sunshine brass outro come plodding Harcourt-by-numbers tracks such as "Sister Renee".
More interesting is "Ghost Writer" with it's production trickery, looped beats and spooky off kilter piano keys. Looped beats and percussion also play a part on the excellent delight that is "Jetstter" with it's sepia tinted harmonica.
The dark and forbidding jazz touched "Undertaker Strut" is all southern gothic delight with a swampy brass section that resembles the fantastic "He's Building A Swamp" from the underrated "Maplewood".
The most upbeat and rockier number here is "Watching The Sun Come Up" where Harcourt really does get a sweat up whilst sounding like Bono fronting Hothouse Flowers over a potential future single!
It's a shame then that the album's closing self-titled track should be another weak and forgettable number that leaves you realising that Harcourt still has a little way to go before he attains the greatness he seems to think his songwriting deserves.
So, in conclusion, a fine album that promises much is just found wanting at times.
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