sun 22/09/2019

CD: Ed Harcourt - Time of Dust | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Ed Harcourt - Time of Dust

CD: Ed Harcourt - Time of Dust

Melancholy romantic delves deeper and darker

Ed Harcourt's murky waters

Ed Harcourt – with his vulnerable tenor vocals – treads the knife-edge between melancholy and self-indulgence, romantic yearning and comfort-zone sentimentality. At his best, he delivers literate songwriting, with poetic imagery that is inspired and imaginative rather than contrived. At his weakest, the sombre colours of his emotional palette and the meandering introspection grow wearisome, and soon grate.

His new mini-album, mercifully concise (at 28 minutes) in this time of digital ramblings that far exceed the useful rigours imposed by last century’s LPs, is billed as a stab at something more wholeheartedly darker, deeper into the underworld frequented by the likes of Nick Cave or Tom Waits. The stripped down piano or guitar accompaniment that characterised his earlier albums, not least his mostly excellent 2013 release Back Into The Woods, has given way to something more sophisticated: each song is a delicately crafted little symphony, with lovingly layered detailing and texture. The piano and drum sounds are enhanced with echo. A theremin on “Come Into My Dreamland” adds an eerie frisson to a gloomy call for self-annihilation, and widescreen reverb-filled orchestration fills the sound of Gothic excursions “In My Time of Dust” and “The Saddest Orchestra (It Only Plays for You)”.

Ed Harcourt has a sure command of lyrics – as good as any British writer of his generation and yet under-rated – but the pop clichés that seep into this latest album, even if they are managed with often exquisite skill and occasional true inspiration, come close to undermining the authenticity of his dark-hued explorations. Time of Dust is apparently an indication of new directions to come. Harcourt has undoubtedly taken risks and broken new ground, but let us hope he can push the envelope just a little more radically next time. He might just get the recognition he justly deserves.

Each song is a delicately crafted little symphony, with lovingly layered detailing and texture

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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