Heavenly - 2001 - 52 minutes

Ed Harcourt opens his debut album with what sounds like a statement of intent – albeit a half-hearted one – in 'Something in My Eye'. "God knows I'm really tired/Let's make the big time/Aiming to climb high", he sings as the song moves gradually from an underwhelming acoustic opening to a near-anthemic swell of strings and bells.

This is followed by a menacing piano line on 'God Protect Your Soul', which ebbs and flows until it all gets too much for Harcourt as he howls "I need to build a world around me". The man is nothing if not inventive, from the cabaret-style 'Apple of My Eye' to the lullaby of Dave Fridmann-produced 'Wind Through The Trees'.

The apocalyptic 'Beneath the Heart of Darkness', plunges through a maelstrom of helicopter samples, guitar feedback and radio static before coming out of the madness into a calm harbour. Self admittedly influenced by writers and directors, 'Beneath the Heart of Darkness' is an obvious homage to Francis Ford Coppola and Joseph Conrad.

With intelligence, imagination and an obvious talent for crafting textured and quirky songs, Harcourt picks his monsters carefully and presents them beautifully.

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: Something In My Eye - God Protect Your Soul - She Fell Into My Arms - Those Crimson Tears - Hanging With The Wrong Crowd - Apple Of My Eye - Beneath The Heart Of Darkness - Wind Through The Trees - Birds Fly Backwards - Shanghai - Like Only Lovers Can