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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

Ed Harcourt - Time of Dust Review
Posted by Daniel Wilcox on 01.22.2014

Ed HarcourtTime of Dust

Track listing:
1. Come Into My Dreamland
2. In My Time of Dust
3. The Saddest Orchestra (It Only Plays For You)
4. We All Went Down With The Ship
5. Parliament Rocks
6. Love Is A Minor Key
Running time: 28:17

Ed Harcourt has achieved something quite extraordinary, maintaining a respectable career as a moderately successful singer-songwriter without ever breaking into the mainstream zeitgeist during a career that hs now nearly spanned a decade and a half. That's quite the impressive feat when you consider his 2001 debut album Here Be Monsters was nominated for the Mercury Prize, but since then Harcourt has been slowly but surely maturing become a fully-fledged crooner and a song-writer of the highest order. Some of his previous works are impeccable, while new mini-album Time of Dust serves as a stop-gap for a fuller piece of work to come down the line.

Time of Dust is allegedly a sign of things to come, a warning for those who are easily depressed. To say that this album was brooding would be quite the understatement. You only need to look at the song titles to know where this is going. The EP opens with “Come Into My Dreamland.” It opens quite operatically with just a piano before it begins to shake, the vocal warbles in eventually and begins to tower over the whole piece, like a vindictive Disney tune or something out of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds. “In My Time of Dust” is slightly more uplifting, but still melancholy, with a fantastic opening verse, “hanging off the hinges / Swinging from the rafters / Torches of the lynch mob / Babbling burning scriptures / Vicious, mindless thinkers / Pretty, poison drinkers / Lonely graveyard shifters / Lacking in a listener.” Every word is thought provoking and it builds in its genius as the song climaxes to a chorus. A wonder to behold.

“Parliament of Rocks” is quite the anthem. Harcourt duets with Kathryn Williams, a phenomenal female vocal, and while their vocal harmonies to tend to great the way the song builds is quite the spectacle. On an album that can only be described as excessively grandiose, this is the record's most mesmerising peak. Interestingly it's the record's two bleakest moments, the opening track and “We All Went Down With the Ship” where Harcourt's many talents are best displayed. Considering he's stated this album is a prelude to “more evil” on a future album, that's a fantastic sign of things to come. Some song-writer just aren't at their best unless their pouring their heart out in an angry, piercing ballad.

The album continues on in the same way throughout its near half hour running time. The music twirls wonderfully around Harcourt's vocal, which you can hear is now the gruff, worn croon of the a well-travelled singer-songwriter. On the rare occasion when Harcourt pushes his voice to its very limits, to the point where you're almost waiting for it to break, it's so effective purely because of the amount of control he usually has over it. It's his most powerful weapon, and that's a bold statement when taking into account the man's considerable song-writing ability.

Ed Harcourt - "The Saddest Orchestra (It Only Plays For You)"

The 411: The 411: What's so impressing about this album is how effortless the whole thing sounds, as if Ed Harcourt could've knocked it up in a couple of hours in his back garden. It's not a flawless album by any means, the harmonies with the female vocal on “Parliament of Rocks” is a rare mis-step on what is otherwise another great track, and by the album's end you do yearn for something a little different. All in all it's a very rewarding album, and I feel that the closer you pay attention to the lyrics the more joy you'll get from the record. If it's upbeat and catchy you're looking for, you've come to the wrong place. But if you want something beautiful and dignified then Ed Harcourt is your man, and Time of Dust is perhaps his best work in half a decade.
Final Score:  8.0   [ Very Good ]  legend


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