Please Don't Break Me From This Spell

When I first saw Ed Harcourt, I thought he was American. He stood in the photo, a big hirsute man on a pebbled beach, dawn breaking behind him in an orange blaze, like some pilgrim holy man ready to lead his flock to a new Eden. Later I found out he is descended from landed gentry in East Sussex, those pebbles on the beach were next to the White Cliffs of Dover and he hails from Wimbledon in London. So, first impressions can be misleading or I have an overactive imagination, cannot decide  which. With his fifth studio album “Lustre” Harcourt has gone indie. Literally. He parted ways with EMI after rattling around in their roster for nearly ten years whilst no one  seemed to know what to really do with him, and is releasing “Lustre” through his own Piano-Wolf label. And good for him. I like what he is doing here. Writing realistic love songs with big arrangements and sentiments that flow like  a free stream of consciousness. He has been releasing records for ten years now, so this probably could not be called a breakthrough album, but it may well be the album of his career thus far. It is very adult friendly pop rock, the type that Coldplay release so successfully. “Haywired” to me shines through. It’s heavy on the mellotron (electro-mechanical, polyphonic keyboard to you and me) ebbing and flowing, swaying happily in a rich mix of drums, strings, piano and Ed’s stirring vocals. The song culminates into a “It’s not easy to be happy, get a way with it” chant towards the end that almost feels like a mantra. Like he very nearly cannot believe this new found happiness and is afraid of it slipping through his fingers once more. Winsome, sincere and elated.

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