I confess. I was quite sceptical about this albumbefore I listened to it. A white, male singer songwriter, its bound to be atortured collection of David Gray-esque introspective ballads. Orso I thought. I was wrong. And wrong again.
Ed Harcourts second album is superb. Sure, it hasits tender moments, but more importantly there is welcome variety and nolittle quality. It all confirms his status as a rising star,following on from his Mercury nominated debut Here Be Monsters. Nodifficult second album syndrome here – just 12 tracks where you can almostfeel the sheer talent oozing out of every note.
Of course, it’s not all been adulation for theyoung Sussex lad. A minority of critics have accused Harcourts tunes ofbeing markedly average and his style too reminiscent of Tom Waits,amongst others. To his credit Harcourt refuses to shy away fromacknowledging his influences – but he needn’t, as his songs stand on their owntwo feet with ease.
Bittersweet opens the album, and although itsounds a little leaden at first, it improves with further listens. SingleAll Of Your Days Will Be Blessed is next up, and is the best of the 12songs on offer, as stylish a pop song as youll find. Ghostwriter andUndertaker Strut, apart from having fantastic titles, are lively, classyand crammed with juicy pop hooks. Jetsetter recalls the Super FurryAnimals at their most playful, a swoonsome chorus backed by weird littlesound effects and a cheeky harmonica. And as such is delightful.
Harcourt struggles somewhat with his slowertempo efforts, Bleed A River Deep being distinctly average and the titletrack not quite matching its grand aspirations, yet Fireflies Take Flightis a triumph, sentimental yet beautiful. Harcourts voice is a revelationtoo, being as it is vivid, rich and full of character. Its just so goodthat you cant help but notice how much it adds to every song.
The honesty and eloquence of From Every Sphereis matched by the man himself. He is refreshingly straightforward about thesubject of musicians and their attitude to success. “Everyone who makesrecords wants success…why put it out if you dont want it sold?! It’sjust bullshit when someone says, Oh, I dont have an ego, because it’slike, Yes, you do – you’re releasing your songs to the public; you’reairing your dirty laundry – you have a f**king massive ego!” he says.
Moreover, he is unashamed in his consideration of himself as a potential popular artist,expressing admiration for Moby‘s We Are All Made Of Stars as agreat pop song. Not the sort of admission you’d find from your averagesinger-songwriter. But exactly the kind that confirms Harcourt’s starquality. The man’s got the tunes, the swagger and the ambition to hit thetop – and he knows it.