Friday, 18 November 2011

Ben Howard's 'Every Kingdom'

I acknowledge that this album has been out for some time now. But it would appear that I still get excited every time I hear the intro track "Old Pine" come on in my car and I suddenly relax to devour the entire album. I cant skip a track. I know all of the words to every song. And I try to sing along to the instrumental parts which is a sure sign of utter love for his sound.

The Devon based singer/songwriter, in the words of Zane Lowe, "must have a lot more depth and emotion going on in his life than just surfing". The extent of emotion in his tracks is goosebump stuff. The lyrics are inquisitive, illustrative and eager for life's love and zest. The instrumental build ups (noteably in 'Old Pine' and 'Diamonds') is superb. The minimalism of most of the tracks allows a simplistic listen. However, where there is extra texture added, there's just the write amount added to provide depth and filling.

The single 'Keep Your Head Up" is an upbeat, well paced track, delicately placed in the middle of the album, well hidden and shrouded by other massive tracks. It's by no means the only gem in this gold-mine. For one, 'The Wolves', 'The Fear' and of course, 'Old Pine' all carry catchy, singalong like tunes that provide momentum and drive for the album. That's not to say they carry the record along in any way. Tracks 'Everything', 'Black Flies' and 'Gracious' are of an extraordinarily high level of musicianship.

So what makes him stand out? Well for one, when contrasted to Bon Iver, I can understand what he's saying. He's maturer than Ed Sheeran and unlike Laura Marling is a) a man and b) not all hillbilly and guitary but just ol' fashioned very, very, very good.

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