Most helpful positive review
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Causes more than a murmur in my heart
on 27 February 2013
I've been an Ed Harcourt fan since his wonderful "Maplewood" mini-album at the turn of the century and have followed his career and enjoyed his music immensely since then. His last album, "Lustre" was as ambitious, full and grand as anything Ed has ever released (and was very good indeed), but, in contrast, "Back To The Woods" is an understated, humble album, largely performed with only piano and vocals, which allows the beautifully written and performed songs to stand or fall on their own compositional merits. It is, therefore, a credit to Harcourt's songwriting ability that this album is a genuinely arresting listen, as Ed's truly gorgeous, honeyed voice and the lovely chord progressions and melody politely demand the listener's full attention. This release really is a welcome and perfectly timed change of pace for the East Sussex-based musician.
Much of the publicity for this album has been centred around its recording within a six hour session at Abbey Road. Whilst this approach has been economical in terms of instrumentation, the songs have the feeling of being fully realised, rehearsed and planned meticulously before the recording sessions. It's not exactly Wings' ramshackle "Wild Life", put it that way. My personal favourites are the album opener, "The Cusp & The Wane" which references great artists who were under-appreciated in their time, the lyrically-dark "Wandering Eye", the twisted love song, "Murmur In My Heart" and the remarkable "Brothers & Sisters". There is literally nothing on "Back To The Woods" which disappoints and I take forward the impression that listening to the album several times more will reveal some hidden delights. Ed's albums always have a good mix of songs which are instantly recognisable as being gems and others which are slow burners but often end up as firm favourites. I'm very sure this album will be no different and repeated listens of this beautiful, accomplished piece of work certainly won't be a chore.