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Ed Harcourt: Ode To A Drunk Dialer

Lots of people have friends prone to "drunk dialing" — calling late at night after a few drinks only to babble incoherently, usually into voicemails heard the next morning. In "You Only Call Me When You're Drunk," Ed Harcourt finds a way to spin that phenomenon into a moving mini-opera, as he eloquently details a friendship's original bond ("As dreamers, we'd scream all the songs that we'd known all our lives") while gently requesting an end to all the calls.

Harcourt's plea starts off slowly, driven by plaintive vocals and percussive piano. It gathers steam steadily, building into an orchestral epic that hammers home the titular refrain and culminating in a frenzy of strings. In the interim, it's hard not to feel Harcourt's resigned disappointment for a friend ("someone I used to know") he imagines passed out on a park bench. Both a wake-up call and a call to arms, "You Only Call Me When You're Drunk" nicely exemplifies Harcourt's ever-evolving and improving craft, in the process functioning as a potent cautionary example.

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Barbara Mitchell