Review Summary: Ben Howard and his entourage release a surprisingly emotional EP displaying a variety of differing feelings and experimentation while still retaining the main aesthetics which makes folk music so enjoyable.
Ben Howard, who's name is relatively unknown at this current time, is about to gain much more popularity very quickly, very soon. Consisting of a small group of musicians, their massive passion for folk music clearly shows throughout the unfortunately short duration of this EP. Hailing from the county of Devon, England. The band consists of Ben Howard who is the main songwriter and ultimately the driving force behind the bands music, India Bourne who provides her atmospheric touches with her subtle chello playing and Chris Bond, who plays bass guitar, double-bass, drums, additional percussion and any other instrument which seems to take the man's fancy (he is also capable of playing three of these instruments at the same time live). The trio craft a surprisingly emotional EP which shows a strong sense of ambition and experimentation while never losing it's focus or sense of purpose.
The EP starts off with one of the best tracks on the album, the uplifting song The Wolves. Beginning with a soft-picked guitar with Ben crooning a melody which is sure to be stuck in your head for many days before the subtle percussion comes in and adds a nice, quick pace to the song. The first thing that may strike the listener is Ben's unusual sounding vocals, while taking some time to become accustomed to, they manage to suit their style perfectly while adding a unique and instantly recognizeable characteristic to their sound which will make them stand out from their local scene. As the song reaches its' climax the vocals take on a more powerful edge which shows Ben's versatility and conveys his strong connection to his music. Another uplifting and this reviewer's personal favourite song is 'Move Like You Want' boasting the catchiest chorus on the album with several addictive melodies which you can't help but literally 'move' and tap your foot along to with a silly grin on your face. This is also Chris's shining moment on the EP as he pulls off playing three instruments (the bass guitar, drums and any additional percussion) at the same time while not detracting from its overall impact.
However the album isn't completely cheerful throughout it's duration such as the second track Cloud Nine, London and These Waters. The former and These Waters being the first to feature Ben's more peculiar playing style which consists of slapping the strings with his fore-finger and tapping the body of his guitar, thus providing a nice change of pace and adds to the EP's overall diversity. While India's Cello playing adds that extra atmosphere that is needed, her best cello performance on These Waters where her instrument comes to the forefront and adds a powerful and atmospheric moment and creates a strong emotional impact as the song reaches its' climax.
Although Ben Howard is a relatively unknown name at this time, this EP shows their inspiration and pure passion that this small group of individuals put into their music. Nonetheless their population is growing slowly and their music is now being featured on several local radio stations, if they continue creating music of this calibre they may find themselves becoming one of the leading roles in the re-emergence of folk music in England.