Ben Howard's next single release from his debut album Every Kingdom will be "Old Pine" on August...
Young West Country singer-songwriter Ben Howard is a man out of step with the troublesome nature of modernity. He no longer bothers with mobile phones (he's lost 7 to date), he's yet to dabble with digital television, and he finds this social networking malarkey irksome. It's a stance that resonates through his music too, all recorded in a crumbling, creaking barn in rural Devonshire and nestled between the moors and the sea.
What Ben lacks in modern nous, he compensates for in the intricacies and fresh approach to his guitar playing. Blindly thrashing three chords isn't his style, and the mesmerising finger picking technique that he merges with creating beats via a deft rap of his knuckles on the instrument is something quite special.
It's an intriguing delivery, and one that makes his crackling, weaving songs so spellbinding. Part Bon Iver, part Donovan, Ben's beautifully toned vocal is an instrument in itself, and it's a talent that is already prospering on the live circuit long before a deal with Island Records (by way of Communion) was inked. Selling out venues far beyond his vast following amongst a fiercely loyal West Country surfing community, his recently concluded UK tour sold-out from Glasgow to London, and across Europe too where the demand is at odds with his freshly signed status.
The Old Pine EP is a woozy, languid introduction, cathartic and quietly euphoric. 'Old Pine' is already a live favourite, his percussive perfection matched with the driving intricacies of Ben's guitar playing and, smoky controlled voice. It's replicated across the EP too. 'Further Away' and 'Follaton Wood' showcase that guitar-plucking and the rawness of Howard's emotional subject matter.
Dark and alluring on tape, and creating this unique live story before the story's truly yet begun, Ben Howard harks back to a classic and comforting time of old, albeit with a forward-thinking method of guitar performance. Spring is afoot, and 'Old Pine' is a timely breathe of fresh air.