The Next Big Thing?
Communion has an ear for talent. The London label, co-founded by Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons, has a knack for spotting rising stars – Ben Howard being no exception. The English singer-songwriter has made waves on both sides of the pond with Every Kingdom, which arrived in the US just this past week. As illustrated by his packed SXSW gigs and numerous sold-out shows, though, Howard fever has been growing for quite some time.
The buzz surrounding this British troubadour is absolutely justified. Every Kingdom is a confident and cohesive album, clearly defining Howard’s place in the singer-songwriter spectrum. His smoky tone is reminiscent of Ray LaMontagne or even Brett Dennen; his introspective, acoustic material is also situated in that realm. Songs like “The Wolves” recall James Vincent McMorrow’s “If I Had a Boat”: they have similar ebbs and flows, moments of passion and hooks galore. While Howard doesn’t necessarily rock the boat, he’s perfected his brand of catchy folk—and that consistency has made him a strong contender for “next big thing.”
Like Mumford & Sons, Ben Howard is making accessible English folk music. Every Kingdom sounds very little like Sigh No More, but both albums combine acoustic instruments with well-crafted pop songwriting. It’s impossible not to get caught up in the fervent crescendoes, the infectious melodies, the deft fingerpicking. Howard knows what works, and he’s released a solid and compelling debut. Every Kingdom makes one thing very clear: it’s time for another British (folk) invasion.