Ben Howard ‘Every Kingdom’ Album Review
The setting that comes to mind upon listening to Ben Howard’s debut full-length album is a bonfire on the beach, as one can easily imagine this talented musician strumming his guitar atop a log while the shadows of the flames dance upon the faces of a spellbound audience beneath a starry night with the sound of waves crashing in the background. Howard is both raw and intimate, and the beach vibe stems from a complete lack of pretense to his music, and if I hadn’t already known his nationality, I might guess he was from California (He’s not; Howard is English and from the West Country).
The album Every Kingdom is laid-back and earthy, yet it has this intense sound that successfully straddles the dichotomy between conveying a natural vibe and being meticulously arranged. The meticulous aspect of these songs is evident in the way they build to a triumphant peak—almost synonymous to the crescendo of a big wave. For example, the opening track “Old Pine” begins slowly and towards the end you can’t help but picture running into the sea in a flight of freedom from life’s strings.
It’s worth noting that prior to Howard’s blossoming career, he received strong support from the surf community in Devon and Cornwall. Howard is a surfer and had a short-lived placement with a surfing magazine before he quit in order to devote his life fully to music. He was studying journalism but gave up six months before graduation. Howard’s gamble clearly worked out well, as he has found a devoted following relatively quickly with his rootsy, folk-rock music. Constant touring and word of mouth have done Howard a world of favors in securing a hefty fan-base.
I originally reviewed Howard’s debut EP “Old Pine” and I stand by the description I used then to capture his overall sound: amazing guitar skills and a voice that just grips you with its warmth, like the calmness of standing before the deep blue sea.
As a sign of his success, Howard has been on tour throughout Europe and has continued to sell out multiple venues. Howard has yet to tour in America, but “yet” is the key word, as he’ll surely jump across the pond based on his growing success and find equally enthusiastic fanfare. In the meantime, you can now find his album here.
The track list is as follows:
3. The Wolves
5. Only Love
6. The Fear
7. Keep Your Head Up
8. Black Flies
In the video below, you can see proof of just how talented a guitar player Howard is in an acoustic rendering of the sound “Only Love,” which is a standout track from the album.