2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A strange brew indeed,
This review is from: From Every Sphere (Audio CD)
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.