Ed Harcourt, Furnaces

English singer-songwriter Ed Harcourt releases his new album Furnaces. 

By Jane Howkins

Singer-songwriter Ed Harcourt recently released his new album Furnaces, featuring a range of different sounds and instruments which combined create a near perfect record.

The singer-songwriter genre has been overrun in the last few years with a slew of artists being put under that umbrella – often when they don’t actually fit there. Thankfully, Ed Harcourt bucks that trend with his latest release, with the music being original and interesting enough to fit well into the genre as it should be.

Harcourt is a multi-instrumentalist, leading to some fascinating compositions alongside the introspective lyrics. If you don’t get chills when listening to this, then keep trying. They’ll come. Opener The World Is On Fire is downright creepy, with a lonely violin theme creating a certain spooky atmosphere for the piece, and serving as a great introduction to the album. It reminds us of the sort of music that Brand New were creating on their last album Daisy, (although not as heavy), with an indeterminable darkness dwelling amongst the strings.

Another particular favourite is the piano led Dionysus, as Harcourt sings a fantastic tale of gods and men, with the tension slowly creeping up through the track. This is something that Harcourt is very skilled at, and it takes a special kind of person to be able to do this so well. The catchy piano line sounds almost similar to something that Tori Amos would write, before turning into more of an industrial rock song, with military drums and a string section ramping the tension up even further.

It’s important to note that whilst the music on Furnaces is largely quite experimental, it’s also rather catchy, and straddles the line between the two very well. The title track is a good example of this, as it features multiple instruments and some interesting background stuff, whilst still managing to be incredibly catchy – to the point that you won’t be able to get it out of your head.

It’s a crying shame that Harcourt has not had the recognition he deserves, as whilst critically he has generally performed very well, in terms of public support he is still a relative unknown. Hopefully Furnaces will help to change all that, as it’s a truly excellent record filled with some very creative and expansive ideas, created by a young man who very much deserves the praise that is usually unnecessarily lumped upon other so-called singer-songwriters. It’s bold, it’s experimental and best of all, it sounds absolutely fantastic.