Ed Harcourt - Time of Dust
It's been 13 years since a fresh-faced Ed Harcourt released his Mercury-nominated debut Here Be Monsters, a record which to this day sounds as close as any one man got to recreating the sinister romance and poetic eloquence of Jeff Buckley's 1994 masterpiece Grace.
In the years that followed, Harcourt set about quietly developing his craft, with his subsequent career one that can be divided into two distinct halves. After releasing four albums with EMI imprint Heavenly Records, he cut his losses and went independent, in turn releasing his most finely realised work to date. On last year's pared back LP Back Into The Woods, the once youthful rasp that courted original fans had swelled and hardened into something dense and more in touch with the rich malevolence that embodies much of his troubled songwriting. Time of Dust continues this matured approach, signifying a newly inspired rush of prolific vision.
This short collection acts as a prelude to an upcoming full album of supposedly “evil songs”. Resting at a comfortable 29 minute playtime, this is a masterful blend of bleak, enigmatic storytelling and a flurry of soaring hooks that put your bastardised indie heavyweights Coldplay and co. to shame. “Vicious, mindless thinkers / Plenty poison drinkers / Lonely graveyard shifters / Lacking in a lair of snow,” he recounts on the nominal title track 'In My Time of Dust'. It's a powerful display of Harcourt's poetic tongue and ability to match an equally rousing melody around words which could have easily remained on paper. If ever he has a shot at getting an FM 'hit', it'll be single cut 'The Saddest Orchestra (It Only Plays for You)'; sure, it strains a little on the oh-so-sentimental chorus but you'll be hard pressed to deny the emotive impact.
Ever the underdog, Harcourt has yet to take a real misstep in his mighty seven album run, a feat far too few will ever match. A hidden genius.