Heavenly - 2004 - 46 minutes

Ed Harcourt's 2003 album 'From Every Sphere' had its flashes of brilliance when it hit the extremes: the joyous pop of 'Watching the Sun Come Up' and the bleakness of the title track.

'Strangers' never reaches those highs/lows, but it's still a good record, that begins powerfully, loses a little something along the way and then gets its second wind.

Love and the magic of childhood dominate, and while the big sentiments and arrangements don't fall over each other, there is the feeling that sometimes Harcourt plays it a little too safe for the talent he has.

The first four tracks and 'Loneliness' will stick with you from the first listen; the rest take more work - the time warranted because Harcourt has it in him to do something amazing from beginning to end. 'Strangers' may not convince you of that, but there are moments when it's very persuasive.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: The Storm is Coming - Born in the '70s - This One's for You - Strangers - Let Love Not Weigh Me Down - Something to Live For - The Trapdoor - The Music Box - Loneliness - Open Book - Kids (Rise from the Ashes) - Black Dress