Review: Ben Howard
THERE is nothing remotely "star-shaped" about Ben Howard's persona.
Guitar hitched chest high and slung left-handed. Head bowed. Clad in T-shirt and jeans.
Sipping from a coffee mug. Hunched over strings that appear in constant need of tuning and re-tuning.
Nothing is extraordinary, but its very ordinariness. But in appearance lies ultimate deceit.
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Debut album Every Kingdom made the 2012 Mercury Prize list, spawning radio hits in The Wolves and Only Love, songs that place the 25-year-old in the same rarefied airspace as the likes of fellow singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.
Backed by a multi-instrumentalist band (drummer Chris Bond contributing bass guitar and drums simultaneously) which is rarely far from full flight, Howard's percussive tap-and-crack guitar gave the music its rhythmic centre.
There are themes of loneliness, loss and longing. Howard's is the lovelorn howl of Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac, urged on by his own restlessly idiosyncratic guitar.