I got this CD on the back of hearing only one song, "He's abuilding a swamp". Why? The Spanish trumpet in the background was great, and the surreal concept of a song about a guy, living beside a wood building a swamp was too good to miss. This is Ed Harcourts first release, and is only a 6 song EP, but that is the only fault. His style is good old fashioned music, un-generalised, but perfectly formed with a rawness you don't hear from todays polished pop. His lyrics can be a bit surreal and the music can be driven by occassionally random rag-tag rhythms, but this matters little, as it adds to what is just a great listen as you mosey slowly along.
If you own most of his stuff you'll have most of these songs in a more polished form, and wonderful as they may be it's always interesting to see how they started out life. This 4track recording shows Harcourt's early versions of Some Bsides and Here Be Monsters tracks such as Apple of my eye and Hanging with the wrong crowd. The lo fi fuzzy recordings really grow on you, to a point where you might prefer the echoey vocals and crackly beat boxing on apple of my eye to it's album counterpart. The out of time drumming and the occasional split in ed's seductive rasp only add to the character of this pre LP demo giving it a rough edge that's missing on his next two releases, something he's apparently trying to recapture on his next album. 'Attaboy go spin a yarn' is probabily one of his best songs to date and it's a real mystery why it diddn't pop up on HBM. Unless he feels he nailed it without the help of a studio or producer. While I wouldn't pay too much for it (6 or 7 quid's about right) It's definatley worth getting if you're really into his stuff.
This mini-album, self-produced and recorded, is just the tip of what could become a rather mighty iceburg. Apparently the 20 year old Ed Harcourt has already writen some three hundred songs, which bodes extremely well for his full length release later this year. The sound is hard to catagorise, as every track sounds different. "Hanging With The Wrong Crowd" could be Nick Drake on Prozac, "I've Become Misguided" reminds me a little of a young Tom Waits, and "Apple Of My Eye" wouldn't have sounded out of place of Mercury Rev's "Deserter's Songs". Except that all of these songs still manage to sound completely unique ... there is not a second of pastiche here ... just twenty minutes of brillaint songwriting and musicianship.
This "album" (more like an over sized ep than even an undersized lp (boasting only 6 songs)) is and absolute beauty. Instrumentally it is diverse and certainly keeps u listening. Lyrics happily corroborate the music's story, creating a well crafted mini album that drips with not only an overwhelming potential (to be partly fulfilled in the not so distant future by a larger outing we hope), but also a cunning and captivating original brand of beautifully tarnished perfection. This is a small but perfectly formed masterpiece which as far as I know was done wholly by Ed himself. A very talented young man. Can't wait to see wot he does in the future. I really can't wait. Six songs isn't enough to quench my thirst.
Sounds rough around the edges as its been recored on a 4 track but this simply adds to the appeal. Harcourt displays a unique and poetic sound which makes his mini album one of the best records of the year. "Misguided" and "Apple of my Eye" are truly powerful. Good stuff.
this album is a start of things which became for ed harcourt. its his first album, which is strangely a 6 track mini ep, but stunningly beautiful none the less. in my opinion 'apple of my eye' is the stand out track off the album but closely followed by 'attaboy go spin a yarn' which sounds like something you would stumble upon in a downtown corner bar on a lazy weekday afternoon. listening to 'he's building a swamp' ed's vocals can be quite distant to what you may have before heard but dont be put off, listen to the amazing sounds in the background. if you this like listen to his later albums or try some jeff klein or alex lloyd.