Release Date: September 30, 2011
Label: Island
Tracks On Repeat
1. Gracious
2. Black Flies
3. Keep Your Head Up
8/10

The debut album, Every Kingdom from Ben Howard was released by Island Records in the back end of last year, reaching the Top 10 Album chart in the UK. Ben Howard, a young singer song writer and keen surfer from Devon, has already established a dedicated fan base which is set to grow now his songs are played by Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1. Howard’s music is rich and full; and can be compared to the likes of Ed Sheeran and Bon Iver. The opening song on Every Kingdom is quite possibly the best on the album; with a strong finger picked melody on the guitar and nostalgic lyrics it sets the scene for the entirety of the album, ‘Old Pine’ radiates imagery of his home town, and summers spent beside the sea.

The next truly prominent song on the album ‘The Wolves’ also released previously as a single, is upbeat and perfectly fitting to be played before a live crowd, on his Every Kingdom Tour in the Autumn of last year, this song was greeted with echoes from the crowd of “we lost faith in the arms of love”. Howard’s vocal on this track is raw and angered yet full of his signature folk traces. The following song ‘Everything’ stands in sharp contrast to the previous and is somewhat of a shock, slow and melodic Ben Howard works the guitar, alongside lyrics capturing snapshots of summertime memories.

Howard’s talent if possible, is only magnified on the track ‘Keep Your Head Up’ with a fast paced melody and lyrics that scream a state of blissful euphoria; it is the stand alone heart of this album. Although Ben Howard is a solo artist, he is also accompanied on the album and on tour by India and Chris who turn Howard from a sensational one man band to a powerful ensemble. With Chris Bond on drums and India Bourne singing backing and creatively playing the cello, his songs are taken from being predictable acoustic tracks to having a multitude of dimensions.

Finally, a personal favourite on the album is ‘Gracious’ it is incredibly beautiful. His emotional prose and steady guitar are that of a true artist, bringing to a close an album which can only be described as a lyrical masterpiece. If you are yet to add Every Kingdom to your CD collection, there is no need to wait longer – it is a close to perfect for those who love acoustic, folk albums. After only his first album this young Devonshire lad is set for success.

By Eva Lightfoot
Dance Yrself Clean

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