On January 6th 2014, the critically-celebrated British songwriter Ed Harcourt will release Time of Dust, a 28-minute long mini-album of new material via CCCLX Music. There are still pianos and bitter-sweet lyrical twists, but a darkness has descended and the record marks the beginning of a slightly gloomier new sound.
Thirteen years ago, a mini-album named Maplewood was Ed's first release, "Time of Dust feels not unlike its distant cousin" says Ed. "Early next year, I'm heading into the studio with Flood (Nine Inch Nails, PJ Harvey, etc) to work on an album of evil songs, but before I set sail for the edge of the world, I wanted to break people in gently. Think of Time of Dust as a piece of the map I'll be using to navigate the fog and fire. Or maybe it's the creak of the floorboard before the wolf pounces?"
With its sizzled-synths and thunderous crescendo, the epic 'The Saddest Orchestra (It Only Plays for You)' provides a clue as to where Ed's ship is sailing. The tones are a little darker than we're used to hearing from him, but it's not a complete departure for the troubadour. Ed has always had a malevolent air to his music and there were hints with songs like 'Beneath the Heart of Darkness' and 'God Protect Your Soul' that Ed could quite merrily share a cell-in-hell with Nick Cave and Tom Waits, but "there's an evil skulking out of me at the moment" Ed says, "and I'm not sure the angel-headed hipsters fly where the tides are tugging my vessel."
2013 has been a busy year for Harcourt. From co-writing and producing a new album for Sophie Ellis-Bextor (also set for release in January 2014), to festival appearances at the likes of Glastonbury, Latitude and a headline slot at End of the Road, his dog-eared diary has never seen so much action. He's been musical director for Beck's Song Book at the Barbican, writtens songs with amongst others Kathryn Williams, Ren Harvieu and Sam Smith, composed soundtracks for three movies due in 2014, recorded collaborations with Rae & Christian and Nouvelle Vague's Melanie Pain, and brewed his own beer (an 'Edwardian Brown Ale') with Signature Brew, which after an initial test run of 2000 bottles sold out, the production is being ramped up. His sixth studio album, Back Into the Woods, was released to much acclaim (see below) in February, and then there was that #WIZARDBOUNCE "album" he gave away on April Fool's Day.
Some songs from Time of Dust will be previewed on his upcoming Scandinavian tour and when he performs at Islington Assembly Hall on November 15th (tickets onsale now).