Ben Howard’s sophomore album I Forget Where We Were hit stands officially October 21st, 2014. While Howard’s previous album, Every Kingdom, gained him two BRIT awards in 2013 (one for British Breakthrough Act and the other for British Solo Male), his latest endeavor has set him apart from other slow-to-start artists. This 10-track album is filled with the acoustic vibrancy we’ve come to anticipate from the British folkie. However, Howard’s music fills with an eclectic movement quality when he’s given an electric guitar.
In addition to amping the liveliness, I Forget Where We Were also seems to be Howard’s way of lighting something ablaze and allowing it to smolder slowly. It’s the kind of music you’re going to listen to when you don’t know what you feel. Howard himself doesn’t seem sure, opening himself entirely throughout (check out tracks three and eight). His vulnerable but wonderful vocals are embedded with emotion as usual but particularly in “Small Things.” The first song on the record begins with plucking guitar strings, and Howard whispered vocals, ‘All in my mind/I walked down may flower road again.” By the time we’re through the first chorus, it seems the already quiet sound has died again. In classic Howard fashion, it is brilliantly picked up again with vivid, precise chords detailing his story. (Think the U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” meets Blue Foundation’s “Eyes on Fire” but with Howard’s vocals.) Other songs on the album including “She Treats Me Well” and “End of the Affair” carry the same characteristics but tend to play with less and more weighted silences. Whether it’s an electric guitar Howard seems to have stumbled upon or his new-found vulnerability, this album, while lacking the immediate wow factor of Every Kingdom, has spurred no debate as a successful follow up.
Ben Howard is currently touring Europe and is expected to tour Canada and the U.S. in early 2015. Check out this video of “End of the Affair”, a personal favourite, live at Bonnaroo this past year.