Thursday, July 13, 2006

a beautiful truth

ed harcourt - 'the beautiful lie'

released: june 5, 2006
running time: 54'33"
emi international

songs: 1. whirlwind in d minor 2. visit from the dead dog 3. you only call me when you're drunk 4. the last cigarette 5. shadowboxing 6. late night partner 7. revolution in the heart 8. until tomorrow then 9. scatterbraine 10. rain on the pretty ones 11. the pristine claw 12. i am the drug 13. braille 14. good friends are hard to find

Ed Harcourt has been a rather unusual presence within the singer/songwriter bunch for the duration of his recording career. His boyish irreverence is very present in his typically quirky songwriting, and the fans of his previous work probably would describe his music based on the catchy pop/rock full of feeling that has graced the songs of his consistently good four albums.

Well, 'The Beautiful Lie' is a little bit different. Even if the melancholy has always been there, it's more evident this time around due to the delicacy of most songs. 'The Beautiful Lie' has a much more intimate, personal feel to it than any of Ed's previous records. even if he hasn't abandoned his love for unusual instrumentation and the occasional creepy-carnivalesque moment ('Scatterbraine' and 'I Am The Drug' have Tom Waits written all over them), everything is much less cluttered, giving the melodies more room to shine. The immediate centerpiece of the album is the exuberant 'Revolution In The Heart', but given a few listens, it's the sadness of 'The Last Cigarette', the shameless drama of 'Until Tomorrow Then' and the candid beauty of 'Good Friends Are Hard To Find' that will make you come back to it again and again. Even the more orchestrated pieces like 'You Only Call Me When You're Drunk' are more elegant and sober than before. somehow this contrast between the darker moments and the more upbeat tunes like 'Visit From The Dead Dog' manages to keep a balance that prevents the record from falling into a melodramatic gloomfest. It might take a while for the longer standing fans especially to get used to this subtler side of ed, but it will be very worth it.

Tom Waits was not an innocent name-drop there. Much like Waits, Ed Harcourt's left-field approach to songwriting and his poignant, intelligent lyrics will probably never lead him to the chart-topping status he has been predicted for ever since the 'Maplewood' EP. But, lest we forget the man is a mere 28 years of age, the development of his gigantic musical potential will keep everyone who has been touched by his songs very happy.

the good: elegant, stylish and perfectly balanced - a quiet triumph
the bad: harder to get into than before, might put off less patient listeners


  1. i fell in love with ed for his sunny pop hooks and easy-going goodtimes, so i'm not sure if our relationship will take this latest change. i guess i'll just have to spend some time with him and see if we can work it out.

  2. give it a few more spins, you'll see it'll fit right next to the previous ones. start by the less 'heavy' songs, and build from there. tell me when you start loving it! :)

  3. Ed (not Ed Harcourt)12:35 pm

    The best songs for me are: "Until Tomorrow Then," "Scatterbraine," "Whirlwind In D Minor," and "Good Friends Are Hard To Find"...