Ed Harcourt: Lustre (Piano Wolf/Southbound)

 |   |  1 min read

Ed Harcourt: Haywired
Ed Harcourt: Lustre (Piano Wolf/Southbound)

Sometimes these days it seems that more music is coming out of the Pacific Northwest than ever did at the height of grunge: the difference being it is quieter, more folksy and singer-songwriterly, and is often astutely produced with a few strings.

Briton Ed Harcourt relocated to somewhere just north of Seattle (not as far as Canada, to Bear Studio) for this, his first album in about four years. And the singers-songwriter of his early days has now adopted a more expansive (musical and in delivery) approach.

On the cover he poses with his wife (Gita of the Langley Sister who provide backing vocals) and his daughter -- and they are also symbols of his new maturity and open-hearted expression. In the string-enhanced title track opener (where "lustre" sometimes sounds like "lust") he jibes about "the sad sack troubadour who throws out all his toys".

And in the follow-up, the throbbing Haywire, he pleads "please don't wake me from this spell, I found a little heaven in this world of hell . . . I miss you so much I go haywire" and speaks of people falling in love with the idea of love.

Later he insists he has "got my head screwed on . . . I'll make my own decisions". 

There a powerful confidence and romantic impulse here which Harcourt delivers in manner akin to Chris Martin of Coldplay playing Jeff Buckley. Or in places Grant Lee Phillips.

In arrangements which are crisp and keep his vocals up front of guitars, piano and strings, this is an album which marks a very clear turning point for Harcourt. And although not everything works (the poppy Heart of a Wolf, A Secret Society which sounds like a stab at campus radio play) when he bares his heart -- as on the final song Fears of a Father -- you know Harcourt is one of the few singer-writers who can be as inspired by happiness as much as misery.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

The Fratellis: Here We Stand (Island)

The Fratellis: Here We Stand (Island)

Last year's debut album Costello Music by this rowdy Glaswegian three-piece didn't make it to Elsewhere because, frankly, I didn't rate it as highly as some. I thought it had many of the problems... > Read more

Lee Hazlewood: A House Safe for Tigers (Light in the Attic/Southbound)

Lee Hazlewood: A House Safe for Tigers (Light in the Attic/Southbound)

Following the release of the collection The LHI Years; Singles, Nudes and Backsides, comes this reissue of a film soundtrack, a film which by every account was pretty bizarre. Filmed on the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Manu Katche: Third Round (ECM)

Manu Katche: Third Round (ECM)

This album under the name of mutli-culti French drummer Katche (who has worked with Pat Metheny, Jan Garbarek, Joe Zawinul, Al Di Meola,  Sting, Tori Amos, Tomasz Stanko,  Peter Gabriel... > Read more

Screaming Dizbusters: This Ain't the Summer of Love (1986)

Screaming Dizbusters: This Ain't the Summer of Love (1986)

Elsewhere's been down this side alley before with songs from a terrific double CD compilation A Real Cool Time Revisited; Swedish Punk, Pop and Garage Rock 1982-1989. The album is only... > Read more