Quite where Ben Howard came from is something of a mystery. Much like his contemporary Ed Sheeran, it seems like Ben Howard became a star overnight when the reality is naturally much different. Nevertheless, Howard’s release of several EPs finally earned him his full debut with 2011’s Every Kingdom.
Coming across vocally in a similar vein to John Mayer, and musically channelling classic folk and Andy McKee-esque acoustic guitar virtuosity, few can deny Ben Howard is entirely unique. Listen to the opening flurries of Old Pine and you’ll be assured of that.
Every Kingdom is essentially a chill-out record. Packed full of wonderful melodies and lazy day ditties which would make Jack Johnson proud, this album will benefit from multiple listens: gradually revealing itself but never giving away too much.
For those who have yet to experience the charming tones of Ben Howard, lead-single The Wolves will undoubtedly be the best place to start. Perhaps the strongest tune on the album, with its instantly recognisable intro, it soon becomes clear why he has achieved so much success at a mere 26 years of age.
Where this record really wins is in its offering for everyone. Folk music nuts, guitar driven music lovers and pop aficionados will all love this collection of tunes, and, testament to the quality of songwriting, there isn’t a bad song on this album. All killer, no filler.
Listening to the soothing tones of Only Love will make you want to slip your hand into the hand of that special person in your life and run away with them, whilst the haunting charge of The Fear with its refrain of ‘I’ve been worryin’, I’ve been worryin’, I’ll become what I deserve’ is surely the anthem of an uncertain adolescent generation finding their feet.
Every Kingdom is without question an astonishing record. It may take a few listens to realise this but it is. If ever an album rewarded repeated listens it’s this one, and with a debut this strong, the mind can only boggle at what music must be in him with a little experience. Lyrically it is remarkably introspective, yet still universal to anyone who takes the time to think about themselves for a minute. For some Every Kingdom is just a very good record. For many more, this record could be life-changing.