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Mixing balladry with
left-of-center pop

Ed Harcourt - The Beautiful Lie
(Dovecote Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: July 11, 2008
Ed Harcourt

Review by Tony Bonyata

On his fifth full-length release entitled The Beautiful Lie singer/songwriter Ed Harcourt has crafted a sumptuous collection of indie pop that, while piano-driven (Harcourt's primary instrument), is also brimming with a wealth of rich instrumentation and well-thought out compositions.

From the '60s horn that spices the jaunty pop of "Visit From A Dead Dog" and the whip-smart opener "Whirlwind in D Minor" to the richness of "Revolution In The Heart," which wouldn't sound out of place in Coldplay's live set, Harcourt proves himself a worthy tunesmith. His UK roots begin to show on the dizzying, carnival-esque number "Scatterbraine," which incorporates the eccentricities of both John Lennon and Robyn Hitchcock, while "I Am The Drug" with its fuzzed-up guitars, piercing strings and odd time signatures, is one of the record's true standouts.

Harcourt's voice is pleasant throughout and has an almost angelic quality, which is evident on many of the album's more introspective acoustic ballads, such as the gentile acoustic guitar-kissed numbers "The Last Cigarette" and "The Pristine Claw" as well as the lilting piano-driven songs "You Only Call Me When You're Drunk," "Late Night Partner" and "Rain On The Pretty Ones," which is given further life with the addition of a breathtaking string section.

While this 30 year-old musician proves himself more than worthy at crafting many lovely ballads throughout this record, his eccentric, left-of-center approach to pop that rears its head a few times is what really makes this an engaging listen. Hopefully his next effort will focus even more on these oddly enduring strengths.

Watch Ed Harcourt - "Visit from the Dead Dog" video

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