Ben Howard - Every Kingdom
Folk troubadour Ben Howard couldn't have picked his timing better. The booming folk craze means that albums like Every Kingdom are very in vogue and this is certainly one of the better of the glut of indie-folk albums currently flooding the market. Howard owes a more than a little of his sound to artists like Bon Iver and Iron And Wine, this is especially apparent in the opening track 'Old Pine', dusky and ethereal like an old sepia photo. Howard's soft vocals melt into the beautiful arrangement which gains momentum as the song moves forward. In 'Diamonds', Howard sings in an angry voice as the melody thunders along in his wake.
The album is beautiful, the songs autumnal and melancholy. 'Everything' is particularly effective, Howard singing along to an acoustic guitar. There isn't a great deal of variety, the songs all follow a similar theme of heartbreak and reflection, uptempo melodies and brooding vocals, yet Howard does it well and it is easy to get sucked into his world. 'Only Love' and 'The Fear' are a bit wearisome, but the subtle 'Keep Your Head' is lovely as is the morose 'Black Flies'. Howard really shines when the frills are stripped back and he is left on his own. And as the impending doom and gloom of winter approaches, Ben Howard's lovely sadness may be just what you need to get you through the long cold nights.