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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.
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on 17 April 2013
Ed Harcourt Is simply one of the best british song writers making music today, yet somehow manages to still remain an obscures name within music scene? Radio Dj's are to busy polluting the airwaves with generic boy band/ girl band crap that really music!, real talent! gets totally overlooked. I Haven't been able to stop listening to this album. It has really struck a cord with me hence me writing this review. I am astonished to see a customer review which has given 1 star! That reviewer is obviously deaf or has no soul? I urge you to listen to the 'cusp and the wayne', 'the pretty girls' and 'the man that time forgot' and not be bowled over by these brutally honest troubadour type ballads. For me this is one of Ed Harcourt's Best albums and and Im thankful that someone is still making good meaningful music.
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on 4 February 2016
For me this is Ed Harcourt's `Astral Weeks', with sparse and mainly acoustic arrangements of great songs. I enjoy many of his albums but this one still stands out - I can listen to it again and again. `Murmur In My Heart' is a personal favourite. The best new album of 2013 in my opinion. More like this please!
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on 5 June 2014
Recorded in about six hours, no cheating under those circumstances. Here the stripped-down new material conveys as much emotion as some of his most produced records. "Brothers and Sisters" and "Little Bruiser" stand out, but this could be Ed's most homogenic record. Real, honest, bold and clever. Musicianship over technology.
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on 22 February 2014
Absolutely love this, it's Ed Harcourt stripped back to the basics without the luscious arrangements of some of his other albums. The spare settings suit his voice, and after repeated listening I never grow tired of these melodies. According to the BBC this was recorded in one night at Abbey Road and it has a feeling of intimacy, as if he's singing in your living room. Favourite tracks Murmur In My Heart, the title track, and The Man That Time Forgot - in terms of sales Harcourt does seem to be forgotten, in spite of that Mercury nomination for Here Be Monsters, yet good as that was, he has much more to offer. Buy this, then the new EP, then everything else...
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on 25 March 2013
I've been a fan of Ed Harcourt since the Here Be Monsters album and relish the release of each and every new album. I won't speak about the nuances of the music contained on this album, but I will say the Ed Harcourt has matured like a fine wine. He has a voice that I could listen to for hours, his musicianship is top notch and the songs are always gems. He deserves to be more widely known than he is. I'm a musician and songwriter and If I could write just one song as good as any one of Ed's then I would be a happy man. In case Ed reads the reviews on here, I would say to him to keep on producing albums like this one, I for one will buy anything he releases knowing confidently that every one will be great.
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on 3 October 2014
Bought this album on a random buy impulse. Would recommended to those who like stripped back singer songwriters.
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on 5 March 2013
This is a beautiful album, utterly hypnotising. It has a timeless quality that I really like. I can see myself listening to this for a long time to come.
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on 6 March 2013
Spare, beautiful song-writing twinned with lovingly detailed production. A really wonderful record, highly recommended. Look forward to hearing it live ...
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on 14 March 2013
This is a really pleasant listening album. With the nusical backing stripped right back, Ed's voice sounds even better. Highly recommended.
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