The latest full-length album ‘Back Into The Woods’ by musician Ed Harcourt offers up an incredibly relaxing selection of piano-dominated songs. Harcourt’s style, seemingly influenced by such musicians as Nick Cave, Jeff Buckley and perhaps even Billie Joel, is a style that perhaps isn’t exactly new, but it is one that is certainly a joy to listen too. Harcourt seems to be able to weave together a wonderful mixture of gentle piano and sometimes thought-provoking lyrics. It’s very impressive, and at times incredibly emotional, through the presentation of the music. In the end, all of Harcourt’s styles and methods help make ‘Back Into The Woods’ an incredibly enjoyable record.
There’s a soothing element to ‘Back Into The Woods’. Many of the songs are dominated by a gentle piano, which makes up the basis for many of Harcourt’s songs. Some of the tracks are backed with other instrumentation, which often really assist the overall sound and emotion of the songs. There’s a lot of emotion in the songs, which vary from some sounding just beautiful and relaxing, to others sounding a little bit darker in tone. It helps to give the album an overall shape, with there being a variety in the songs and their sound. There’s the odd track on the album where the piano isn’t the dominant instrument, and instead an electric guitar takes over. What is interesting here is how the guitar sounds just as gentle as the pianos that have preceded it. Nothing on the album is too forceful or anything, but rather it has an almost lulling quality that makes it gentle and relaxing.
I find Harcourt’s music to have a lot going for it. There seems to be a very ‘Billy Joel’ style to a few of the songs, which I find oddly works for the album. It doesn’t feel like a direct rip-off, but rather just an influence taking hold in the music. As a complete album-package, I find that the majority of the tracks give off the sense of being influenced by Billy Joel and other musicians, which I feel works for the album for the most part. As a complete album, there is enough of a flow for everything to work well and compliment each other. If there is any criticism to be found, it might be that perhaps some of the songs are a little too sombre, but that just comes down to the opinions and feelings of the listener. I do find though that perhaps there is a little dragging quality in some of the songs, as though a little bit more could be happening to them. For me, it doesn’t ruin the overall quality of the album. But it certainly seems to be a flaw in some respects.
In conclusion, ‘Back Into The Woods’ is a very pleasing album. There’s some brilliant song-writing present on the album, which seems to be the driving force of the whole album, giving the album its character, and its appeal. It’s incredibly emotive at times, with a number of various emotions coming into the foreground of the various songs. I’d perhaps say that is one of Harcourt’s most thought-provoking records, with the instrumentation and the lyrics being of a very high quality. Overall, it is just a great album, and certainly one that Harcourt can be proud of.
- ★★★★☆ 4/5
- The Cusp & The Wane
- Murmur In My Heart
- Back Into The Woods
- Last Will And Testament