Back in April we travelled down to the southern regions of Camden to attend Ben Howard’s sell-out show at the Borderline.
Long time fans of Mister Howard since his early performing days back in Cornwall, we have been happily watching his star make its steady ascent over the past few years. In May 2010 we proudly watched his big industry show at the Monto Water Rats – one year on and his eagerly anticipated four-track EP Old Pine is due for release by Communion via Island Records on 23rd May.
Ben’s loyal fan base, originating from his home turf in the South West, has grown organically from country to country, and he now has the enviable knack of selling out tours across Europe – no mean feat when you consider that he has yet to release his debut album.
His fans were out in force at the Borderline as the opening of every track both old and new were met with yelps of “I love this one!” and high fives all round. Old Pine and Wolves went down particularly well with spontaneous whoops and sing-alongs from a rapturous audience.
A surfer from a young age, Ben’s songs commonly follow the theme of the great outdoors, but any comparisons with Jack Johnson start and end there. His sound takes in apparent influences from Ray Lamontagne to Nick Drake and Bon Iver. Ultimately though, his fresh folk style is truly unique in the way that he effortlessly employs the seriously tricky technique of simultaneously strumming and percussively tapping his guitar.
Famously no fan of London, we can still detect a slight shift in his sound which may be a nod towards his freshly sprouting Communion roots. This is most evident in the EP title track Old Pine, which breaks down in true Mumford style – not something you would normally find in his original recordings. In an interview earlier that day with 6music he told Lauren Laverne that he is being encouraged to play without using his own percussion techniques because they are difficult to record. We hope they manage to find a way around that as it was a shame to see less of this in the live show.
The next challenge for Ben will be the release of his album. A long time in the making, we reckon that is going to be a pretty special treat…
Words: Daisy Drury