Fri Oct 28 00:33:29 SAST 2016

Album Review: Ben Howard - 'I Forgot Where We Where'

DOMINIC SKELTON | 29 January, 2015 12:56
Ben Howard. File photo
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Ben Howard's second studio album, 'I Forget Where We Were' is a clean sounding, tranquil collection of tracks that will leave you unsure whether to sob or smile. Maybe you will do both.

The first track Small Things begins introduces you to Howard's emotional voice, one that would certainly make the shy girls swoon. His voice encapsulates the sound of the album; soft, smoky and tonally true.

The track dips down and builds up a few times, quite a typical feature of many others on the album. When instrumental parts do build up, often towards the songs' outros, they are well crafted and pleasant on the ear.

Rivers in Your Mouth starts a bit more upbeat, with an English indie feel, walking bass doing its bit to keep up the momentum. Subtle use of back up vocals and single guitar notes effective in creating an attractive chorus, which delivers a message anyone could relate to 'I am not myself today-I am not feeling ok”. Again there is a very soulfully composed instrumental ending to the track.

The CD gives you a bang for your buck. At ten tracks long, it has a running time of 55 minutes, so most songs are over five minutes long.

The title track of the album comes in at track three, where Howard shows a bit more of the range of voice. The track is well controlled, using synth and chords to build up a somewhat sombre atmosphere. I Forget Where We Were goes through ebbs and flows, forcing you to listen to well sung verses and instrumental build ups.

In Dreams begins with energetic guitar plucking and subtle drumming that builds on this intensity. The track uses bent cello melodies and hummed notes to create a slightly different sound to some of the other tracks. Some of the lyrics tell a story of a confused and lonely wanderer. “Always a riddle in the world she said- Always a riddle inside my head- Always a thing of wonder- The way we came to be”

She Treats Me Well shows off some more guitaring excellence - it is the preferred instrument of the English-born songwriter- and a message that every man needs a good woman in their life.

“Found sorrow in my mind most times- Gave it all back to the life I led- Well it seems times change, it all just rolls away- Now I got a woman at home- she treats me well”.

Another slow-paced but expertly constructed tune. One cant help but close your eyes when listening to it. It is a feast for the aural sense. The track has a pretty zazzy outro- exhibiting guitar and bass following similar lines.

The album returns to a more chilled stage with Evergreen. Howard sings along with a raw acoustic guitar sound. Sometimes the CD is a bit too relaxed, but maybe it is how Howard forces his audience to appreciate his singing capabilities.

The CD ends off with a warm-sounding All is Now Harmed, where the whole band sound comes to the party. Thick vocals are backed by by bright chords, some enthusiastic drumming and some synth melodies.

The album is well written and produces a good sound- but don't expect it to get your heart rate up.

Rating 7/10


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