She's a hip-hop hater.....
Mark Perlaki

16:49 27th May 2006

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With his fifth album release in just six years, 'The Beautiful Lie' gives the storyteller in Ed the fullest expression - with tales from the warfront, heart-worn tales and personal vignettes, a balancing act between intimacy and observation. Ed Harcourt delivers his songs with a voice that brings to mind Rufus Wainwright/Badly Drawn Boy/Elvis Costello with huskiness and at times whisperiness, like the gathering of dust on the stylus making the sound fuzzy. Recording took place partially in his Grannie's house with a 1917 piano and also in the studio The White Stripes used for 'Elephant' with the early 60's equipment, B.J. Cole and Graham Coxon popping by with some accompaniment.

The ballladeer shows up on 'You Only Call Me When You're Drunk', 'Late Night Partner' and 'Rain On The Pretty Ones' - 'You Only Call Me...' is a lush tune with Ed sounding like Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge, cosy with the strings and a great song - " dreamers we'd scream of the songs that we'd known all our lives/ of the roofs of the city bankers..."; Ed's voice fragile as china on 'Late Night Partner' and fully earnest on 'Rain On The Pretty Ones', a track dealing with the existential quandries of taking inauthenticity and falsehood as a bride - "...your useless lives don't speak to us/ so rain on the pretty ones/ you leave no footprints in the dust...I'm the doctor with a needle in his arm...I'm the father who couldn't be found...". 'Until Tomorrow Then' is a slow-waltz from a crooning Ed doing a star turn like Elvis Costello pleading to a lover who accompanies, the piano nocturnal and weary, the trumpet melancholic and trying to extinguish the last candles.

The single 'Visit From A Dead Dog' and ''Whirlwind In D Minor' provide the catchy tunes, the latter with Graham Coxon subtley noodling with a jazz guitar. The songsmith delivers his finest song on 'The Last Cigarette' from a battlefield you wouldn't want to be smoking at - "...don't be hasty with the trigger boys/ let him smoke one last cigarette...blind to the very horror of this sorry life...", Ed husky with acoustic guitar pickings and plaintive violin. 'Revolution In The Heart' is the anthemic number with a Bono-like delivery and a punch to the air, a track like from a musical with plenty of scope for audience singalong, all and sundry invited to the party - " the drinkers in a drought/ and the writers steeped in the veteran who fights/ - on his demons late at night/ to the bloody and unbowed/ cannot extend their vows/ there's a revolution in my heart...".

'The Beautiful Lie' has the dust on the cover with a vintage sound polished with a freshness of song and style that shows a unique and innovative singer-songwriting talent at work. There's so many great tracks to be experienced here, and many reasons to come back to this release. Ed brings a confidence and playfulness to 'The Beautiful Lie' with able-handed songwriting and musicality that earmark it as a must have and reasons to check his back catalogue. 

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