One of the recurring themes in Ed Harcourt’s career has been his stylistic breadth, his affinity for stretching wide the musical variety on his albums within the singer-songwriter genre.
On “Beyond the End,” Harcourt sticks to his primary instrument, the piano, and retains his ability to create deeply atmospheric works, but he achieves it here through instrumentals, with nary a lyric in sight.
Working on a 1910 Hopkinson baby grand — very similar to his grandmother’s piano that he first learned to play on and which he used to write his first three albums — Harcourt sees the compositions as balms to the sensory overload we experience daily.
In that spirit, the album sails along on a sea of tranquility with only scattered showers of tension, usually when Gita Langley, Harcourt’s wife, and her sister Amy get involved — on violin and cello, respectively — as on “Keep Us Safe” and “Beneath the Brine.”
Some of the tunes have a cinematic feel, like opener “Diving Bell” or the main piano melody on “Wolves Change Rivers,” while others insinuate intimacy (“There Is Still a Fire”), the inescapability of time (“Duet for Ghosts”) and bygone eras (“Faded Photographs”).
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a song or melody can invoke countless feelings and moods. The scope of emotions on “Beyond the End” is not comprehensive but strong impressions abound.
Pablo Gorondi, AP