Release Date: Feb 25, 2013
Record label: Ccclx Music
“I’m the man who time forgot,” balefully intones Ed Harcourt at the end of this, his seventh studio album. It’s a typically wry piece of self-deprecation, but there’s a grain in truth there too – despite the undoubted talent, the Mercury nominations and the critical praise, there’s a nagging feeling that he’s always remained somewhat on the periphery. Back Into The Woods, therefore, sounds like a clean slate.
Can it really be 13 years since Ed Harcourt released Maplewood, his first collection of demos? Of course it can, none of us are getting any younger, and for a songwriter of Harcourt's ilk that can be no bad thing. Back then he was just some talented young pup with a piano and a Tom Waits fixation - and if the title Back Into The Woods is vaguely self-referential and implying things have somewhat come full circle - then maturity suits Ed. As a grown-up and established troubadour of some notoriety we should be past all that demoing business, so it's kind of cute to learn Back Into The Woods was recorded, produced, mixed and engineered in six hours at Abbey Road studios in what sounds less like a session than a smash and grab.
Back in 2001, with his Mercury Music-nominated debut Here Be Monsters and allegedly hundreds of songs stashed away on a tape machine at his grandmother’s, Ed Harcourt was heralded by some as the next Jeff Buckley. Over a decade later, and 5 albums already under his belt, this quintessentially English songwriter remains under-appreciated in his own country, apparently always on the “cusp of the wane” he’s singing about on his latest album Back Into The Woods. Along with his songwriting and supporting work with a diverse range of other artists (Paloma Faith, Lisa Marie Presley, Ren Harvieu, Josh T.
Harcourt’s sixth album features moments of deft, delicate brilliance. Jaime Gill 2013 Ed Harcourt’s 2001 Mercury Prize nomination has proven a mixed blessing. Yes, it granted his elegant debut, Here Be Monsters, a bigger audience, but it has also cast a dimly anticlimactic light over his subsequent career. Harcourt has hovered on the edge of mainstream success without quite introducing himself.