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LISTEN: Stream Ed Harcourt's New LP
Laurie Tuffrey , February 22nd, 2013 12:20

Harcourt gives us a track-by-track introduction to his new album, Back Into The Woods, ahead of its release next Monday; tour dates below

Ed Harcourt's new album, Back Into The Woods, is out on Monday, February 25.

His sixth album (artwork above), the follow-up to 2010's Lustre, it was recorded in a six-hour stint at Abbey Road, and is coming out via CCCLX, the label established by Drowned in Sound editor, Sean Adams. It'll be available on heavyweight vinyl (with download code) and CD in the UK and download worldwide - get hold of a copy here.

In advance of the release and a longer feature the Quietus will be running with Ed, we've got an exclusive first play of the album; have a listen below and scroll down for Ed's track-by-track, his UK tour dates (where he'll be supported by Catherine AD) and the video for 'Murmur In My Heart':

1. The Cusp & The Wane
Apparently the phrase 'underdog' originated from the practice of bear-baiting, a horrible, ignoble betting 'sport' . The underdog would attack from below the flank rather than topside like the top dog, near the throat, thus condemning it to a more likely demise. So please try and remember these poor bears when you say, 'I'm gunning for the underdog, me'. Raise your ear trumpets to the sound of the daunted chorus, for the creators giveth lest the destroyers taketh away! It's in Db major and was written during a rare weekend of solitude.

2. Hey Little Bruiser
I have been planning a mariachi album for a while but the Bronx got there first. However, I will not let their preemptive strike deter my enthusiasm for this project. I have an assembled troupe who are currently waiting for me in Puerta Vallarta, awaiting a smoke signal as I write. Oh wait that's American Indians. Sorry. Man the guitarrons and maracas amigos! As Nathan Barley succinctly coined "totally Mexico". I actually wrote this because I was obsessed with Willy DeVille's version of 'Hey Joe'. But then it sounded ridiculous, especially with midi synth trumpets. Luckily, after a brief languish in 'song prison', I managed to set it on the right path and the rest is history. Arnulf [Lindner] plays cello, Gita [Harcourt-Smith, Harcourt's wife] plays violin.

3. Wandering Eye
When I was young I really wanted an eye-patch. I think it was because of John Heard in Cutter's Way (not David Bowie - I know, weird eh?). Think about the benefits of eye-patches, they signify experience, danger, mystery and recklessness; you wear one and you're instantly the hushed talking point at some boring party. I want to be that guy at this party who sits alone in the corner, staring imaginary flying daggers at all the guests with his one unblinking eye. This song is not about that.

4. Murmur In My Heart
According to World Of Warcraft, 'Murmur' is the "primordial essence of sound", a very powerful big, bad elemental lord, who's also known as 'Destroyer Of Worlds'. I promise you, I don't actually know this. I don't play World Of Warcraft until 7am. Seriously, you have to believe me, I have never played this game. I'm more into Dungeons And Dragons. The dichotomy of love is the most infamous, inimitable game I have played, way more akin to Battleships than chess in my opinion. The king's a bit crap in chess, isn't he?

5. Back Into The Woods
I remember the first four lines of this song coming to me as I stood in Edgware Road underground station. I repeatedly screamed them out loud until the train arrived so I wouldn't forget, thus metaphysically etching the words into the back of my sieve-like mind and ensuring that no-one sat next to me for the brief journey to King's Cross. It's nice to have a lair you can slink back into, like that Guinness advert about evolution but in reverse. Back into the primordial soup boys!

6. Brothers & Sisters
My elder brothers once trapped me in a lift for ages in the mid-90's. It was only one floor, but I could see their evil, grinning faces through the small window of each door. I am still slowly masterminding my quiet, deadly revenge. A phrase that I hear a lot is: "oh we're like brothers/sisters, we fight all the time". Well those days may certainly be over. FOR THEM.

7. The Pretty Girls
Do you think film directors ever get a bit annoyed with the people who make their trailers, when they suddenly realise that the trailer commissioned is actually better than their film and there's nothing they can do about it? Similar to when people voted Liberal Democrat and then got the Conservatives. I was trying to invoke a little spirit of early Elvis Costello or something when I wrote this but then it became a ballad. Again. So many ballads, so little time.

8. Last Will & Testament
I went to see a wonderful new play by Alan Bennett last week and there was a line that stuck with me, "decay is a kind of progress". It's interesting that some people need priests by their side when at death's door. I'm not sure if I could handle that to be honest, I think I'd rather have a big party with champagne and Belgian chocolates and tap-dancers and moon-walking wolves and fireworks and my family all singing Queen's greatest hits. No clowns though. Clowns bad.

9. The Man That Time Forgot (download for free here)
Here's a thought. Have you ever wondered what Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen or Mark Lanegan or Barry White sounded like when they were a kid? Seriously. Could you imagine Glenn Danzig with a squeaky voice saying "please sir, can I have my ball back" to his next door neighbour? It really freaks me out. Sometimes I can't sleep from thinking about it. This is the last song on the album, so yes be thankful that I am now releasing you from the clutches of my transient footnotes. Thanks for reading.

Thu-Sat 16-18 - Great Escape, Brighton
Wed 29 - Colston Hall 2, Bristol
Thu 30 - Cadogan Hall, London
Fri 31 - Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton

Sun 2 - Trades Club, Hebden Bridge
Mon 3 - St Philip’s Church, Salford
Tue 4 - Library Theatre, Sheffield
Thu 6 - Holy Trinity, Leeds
Fri 7 - Scandinavian Church, Liverpool
Sun 9 - Sage 2, Gateshead
Mon 10 - NCEM, York
Tue 11 - Arts Centre, Norwich