By: Rachel Harper
Ben Howard continues to rock the indie-folk scene with his second album I Forget Where We Were released on Oct. 21. For fans of Every Kingdom, the familiar sound of the previous album is still an underlying presence, while at the same time propelling itself into a new direction.
Howard, a 27-year-old English singer-songwriter, is quite popular in the U.K., is quickly becoming a rising star in North America. He has a considerable fan base in the Greater Toronto Area, having played at Echo Beach in August 2013.
Howard has been a favourite of mine for a few years, and his new album has only enhanced my love for his music. Part of this is because of his very distinct, pleasant voice – soft, airy, and transforming almost into a rasping growl when he reaches low notes. Many of his new tracks incorporate goose bump-inducing harmonies, similarly to his previous album. The song is either overlapped with Howard’s voice, or with India Bourne, the bassist and cellist within the group.
There’s a healthy mix of acoustic and electric guitar in I Forget Where We Were, which pairs perfectly with the array of fingerpicking techniques Howard employs. “End of the Affair” is one such song, with Howard plucking a soothing rhythm at the intro, and ripping through harmonics with a savage passion near to the end. “In Dreams” displays this talent as well, as notes seem to fly by while the drums plod steadily along in the background. This technique is a staple of Howard’s and while it produces a calming arrangement, it also helps the song build itself up to greater heights.
Howard’s talents are not limited to his technical skills, as he is also a fantastic lyricist. His songs and their meanings give you something to chew on as you’re thrust into feelings of nostalgia and wistfulness. This makes I Forgot Where We Were offer a certain grounding effect that results in wonderful de-stressing music. If you’re in need of some serious relaxation, this is the album for you.