Ed Harcourt (born Edward Henry Richard Harcourt-Smith on 14 August 1977, in Wimbledon, London, England) is an English singer-songwriter. To date, he has released six studio albums, two EPs, and thirteen singles. His debut album, Here Be Monsters, was no...
Ed Harcourt (born Edward Henry Richard Harcourt-Smith on 14 August 1977, in Wimbledon, London, England) is an English singer-songwriter. To date, he has released six studio albums, two EPs, and thirteen singles. His debut album, Here Be Monsters, was nominated for the 2001 Mercury Prize. His music is influenced by Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and Jeff Buckley, among others.
Born the youngest of three boys, Harcourt is the third son of a British Army officer. His family home is the manor house of Wootton, East Sussex. He is a great-nephew of the food author Elizabeth David and of Nicholas Ridley, Baron Ridley of Liddesdale, and a great-grand nephew of the one-time mayor of Eastbourne, Roland Gwynne. His brother is noted paleo-anthropologist William Harcourt-Smith. He is married to the singer and musician Gita Harcourt-Smith, née Langley, singer and songwriter in The Langley Sisters. Together, the couple have two children - a daughter named Roxy, and a son named Franklyn.
Before going solo, Harcourt played the bass and keyboards for Snug, a band formed in the mid-1990s by Harcourt, James Deane, Ed Groves, and Johnny Lewsley at school. The band recorded two albums and a handful of singles together before dissolving.
In 2000, Harcourt recorded his debut mini-album Maplewood EP straight to a 4-track recorder at his grandmother's house in Sussex. After signing with Heavenly Records and releasing Maplewood in November 2000, Harcourt recorded his debut studio album Here Be Monsters with producers Gil Norton and Tim Holmes. The album was released in June 2001, and charted on the UK Albums Chart at No. 84. One month after its release, the album was nominated for the 2001 Mercury Prize.
Following the non-album single release of the Brian Wilson cover "Still I Dream of It" in October 2002, Harcourt recorded and released his second album From Every Sphere in February 2003. The album became his highest-charting release in the UK, peaking at No. 39. The album also performed moderately well across Europe, peaking at No. 6 in Sweden, No. 25 in Norway, and No. 103 in France.From Every Sphere also yielded his highest-charting single to date, "All of Your Days Will Be Blessed", at No. 35. A second single, "Watching the Sun Come Up", was less successful, peaking at No. 79. After a steady schedule of tour dates in the UK, Harcourt's third album, Strangers, was released in September 2004. The album peaked at No. 57 in the UK and at No. 7 in Sweden, and produced the singles "This One's for You", "Born in the '70s", and "Loneliness."
Through 2005 Harcourt played some live dates with a side-project he called Wild Boar. In August 2005 the B-sides and rarities compilation Elephant's Graveyard was released as a digital download.
Harcourt's fourth album The Beautiful Lie was released in June 2006 to warm critical reception, with Allmusic hailing the album as "an invigorating and frequently gorgeous affair, essential for old fans and a good place to start for newcomers." The album was not as successful on the UK charts, peaking at No. 97. The Beautiful Lie was co-produced with Jari Haapalainen, and features contributions from The Magic Numbers, who sing backing vocals on "Revolution in the Heart"; Graham Coxon, who plays guitar on first single "Visit from the Dead Dog"; and Ed's wife Gita, who plays violin throughout and sings duet vocals on the track "Braille." Harcourt recorded several tracks with the French jazz trumpeteer Erik Truffaz for his album Arkhangelsk, released in early 2007. Harcourt also performed live with Truffaz's group to promote the album. They also did a Take-Away Show video session shot by Vincent Moon. In October 2007, Harcourt released the compilation album Until Tomorrow Then: The Best of Ed Harcourt, collecting material from the first seven years of his solo recording career.
After Harcourt's contract with Heavenly/EMI ended, Harcourt signed with Dovecote Records in the United States to release The Beautiful Lie stateside, as well as his new EP Russian Roulette in May 2009. Also in 2009, Harcourt composed the original music for the soundtrack to the Donnie Darko sequel S. Darko. In early 2010, he wrote a song called "Isabel" for the SOS Children's Villages Emergency Relief Fund in Haiti.
Harcourt's fifth studio album Lustre was released on 14 June 2010, the first on Ed's own record label Piano Wolf Recordings (distributed by Essential Music Marketing). Ed stated on his official MySpace blog that he recorded the album with producer Ryan Hadlock in Snohomish County, Washington, saying of Lustre: "It's got horns, violins, howling, mellophones, the Langley sisters, barks, whistles, hell I even sung down by a creek in the middle of the night."
Harcourt announced on his Facebook that he is due to release two new albums, one of which was written over the course of a month-long hiatus and recorded solo in the space of 6 hours. This album will be entitled Back into The Woods and is due for release on 25 February 2013 via CCCLX, the new label set-up by Sean Adams, the founder of "Drowned in Sound".
In January 2014 Harcourt released 'Time of Dust', a 6 track mini-album, again on CCCLX.
In 2013 Harcourt started to work with British pop star Sophie Ellis-Bextor on her fifth studio album, their studio sessions culminated in a full-length album called Wanderlust, which Harcourt co-wrote and produced. The first single was Young Blood. Wanderlust was released on 20 January.
In 2015, Harcourt provided vocals for the track "Villain" from the album 8:58, a project by Paul Hartnoll.
In an interview with Phoenix FM in July 2015, Harcourt said he was currently in the studio with Flood recording "harder, louder, darker and euphoric" new material which is due for release in 2016.
Harcourt has opened for many artists over the years including R.E.M., Snow Patrol, Wilco, Beth Orton, The Divine Comedy, Supergrass, Norah Jones, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Neil Finn. Bands and artists who have supported him on his own tours include Magnet, The Magic Numbers, The Tiny, Sondre Lerche, Regina Spektor and Feist. Harcourt performed with Patti Smith and her band as well as Marianne Faithfull during the 2005 Meltdown Festival and her 2014 tour.
Harcourt opened for The Gutter Twins on their European tour in 2008, as well as joining the group on stage to play guitar on some songs, most notably on their appearance on Later... with Jools Holland, performing the single "Idle Hands."
4 December 2013 Harcourt made a guest appearance with Laura Jansen at Bush Hall, London to sing "A Call to Arms"
References in popular culture:
In the video game Silent Hill: Downpour, his songs "Here Be Monsters" is played in the "Surprise" ending and "From Every Sphere" in WLMN FM radio.
His song "Watching The Sun Come Up" also plays in the end credits of the video game Alan Wake's American Nightmare.