Nancy Miller
January 31, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Rumor has it that the maestro of maudlin has found true love, which may explain this slap-happy hodgepodge of an album. Ed Harcourt veers from the guitar-grinding opener, ”The Storm Is Coming,” to twang (”This One’s for You”) to the electro-cutesy toodlings of the title track Strangers. But he saves his best stuff for the end: ”Open Book” is just Harcourt at his piano, rasping his heartache so close to your ear you can smell the Scotch on his breath.

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