Album Reviews

Ed Harcourt – From Every Sphere

(Heavenly) UK release date: 17 February 2003

Ed Harcourt - From Every Sphere I confess. I was quite sceptical about this album before I listened to it. A white, male singer songwriter, its bound to be a tortured collection of David Gray-esque introspective ballads. Or so I thought. I was wrong. And wrong again.

Ed Harcourt‘s second album is superb. Sure, it has its tender moments, but more importantly there is welcome variety and no little quality. It all confirms his status as a rising star, following on from his Mercury nominated debut Here Be Monsters. No difficult second album syndrome here – just 12 tracks where you can almost feel the sheer talent oozing out of every note.

Of course, it’s not all been adulation for the young Sussex lad. A minority of critics have accused Harcourt’s tunes of being markedly average and his style too reminiscent of Tom Waits, amongst others. To his credit Harcourt refuses to shy away from acknowledging his influences – but he needn’t, as his songs stand on their own two feet with ease.

Bittersweet opens the album, and although it sounds 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 12 songs on offer, as stylish a pop song as you’ll find. Ghostwriter and Undertaker Strut, apart from having fantastic titles, are lively, classy and crammed with juicy pop hooks. Jetsetter recalls the Super Furry Animals at their most playful, a swoonsome chorus backed by weird little sound effects and a cheeky harmonica. And as such is delightful.

Harcourt struggles somewhat with his slower tempo efforts, Bleed A River Deep being distinctly average and the title track not quite matching its grand aspirations, yet Fireflies Take Flight is a triumph, sentimental yet beautiful. Harcourt’s voice is a revelation too, being as it is vivid, rich and full of character. It’s just so good that you cant help but notice how much it adds to every song.

The honesty and eloquence of From Every Sphere is matched by the man himself. He is refreshingly straightforward about the subject of musicians and their attitude to success. “Everyone who makes records wants success… why put it out if you don’t want it sold?! It’s just bullshit when someone says, Oh, I don’t have an ego, because it’s like, Yes, you do – you’re releasing your songs to the public; you’re airing 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 a great pop song. Not the sort of admission you’d find from your average singer-songwriter. But exactly the kind that confirms Harcourt’s star quality. The man’s got the tunes, the swagger and the ambition to hit the top – and he knows it.

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More on Ed Harcourt
Ed Harcourt – Beyond The End
Ed Harcourt – Furnaces
Track-By-Track: Ed Harcourt – Time Of Dust
Ed Harcourt – Time Of Dust
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