2012 has been an exciting and successful year for Ben Howard with his Every Kingdom album being nominated for a Mercury Prize. Further successes include a tour with support from Willy Mason, his song Promise being featured on TV series House, a guest appearance on Later... with Jools Holland and a ridiculous amount of festival appearances.
To top the year off Ben Howard released the four track The Burgh Island EP. A darker and more melancholic creation than his previous material, demonstrating he has been exploring his style, maybe as a result of being so well received in such a short space of time.
Even with the introduction of the electric guitar, Howard has still created a record which is just as intriguing and captivating as his previous material. The EP begins with Esmerelda. The song starts off with a brooding and eerie instrumental atmosphere before being complimented by Howard's deep vocals sung with a haunting tone. The repetitive riff on the electric guitar lends to the haunting and almost harsh style of the song.
Oats In The Water is quite a contrast to Esmerelda. It is a lot more rhythmic and upbeat, featuring a catchy chorus, with Howard's deep vocals coming across more contemplative and more akin to his Every Kingdom style.
To Be Alone has a similar style to Esmerelda, with an atmospheric instrumental introduction. The lyrics are almost washed over by the music, sounding like tumbling waves.
Burgh Island was my favourite track of the EP, an 8 minute progressive journey featuring the vocals of Monica Hedal. I love the motif on the electric guitar, which sings over the rest of the track with a bluesy twang. It explores dark moods and finishes with a jaunty riff. I think this track fully demonstrates the transition and development Howard has made since Every Kingdom.
I have been listening to Ben Howard since I first heard his live performance on the Lauren Laverne show on BBC6 Music back in April 2011. I have since followed his exciting career and I’ll have to admit that the Burgh Island EP wasn’t what I was expecting. However, it has reminded me how talented he is and that despite his success with the British public, he isn’t afraid to explore his sound and try out new material. For the sake of making music, not money.
The Burgh Island EP will berekeased on the 10th December through Island Records.