Ben’s latest effort is an every-changing, cinematic map of discovery
Remember when Ben Howard was everywhere?
Many careers would be denied with the kind of success and acclaim Howard got with ‘Only Love’ and 2012s accompanying album Old Pine, but ever since he’s been on a journey of musical discovery that naturally culminates in his most ambitious and enchanting musical discovery with Noonday Dream, released today (1 June).
When the first taste of the album, ‘A Boat To An Island On the Wall,’ dropped we raved about the epic track that seemed to span decades, drifting in between locations and moods and sounded like something that Kate Bush would probably put on the B-side to a modern day Hounds of Love.
The rest of the album more than lives up to ‘A Boat’s…’ considerable promise. The album opener, ‘Nica Libres At Dusk’ is a low-slung husk of track where Howard’s vocals sounds almost vocoder’d at points. The track kickstarts the album’s interior journey, Howard is walking along an endless plain where ‘all of the mountains rumble knowingly’ and ‘eagles soar in circles.’
Dylan-esque? Most definitely. But we still feel that our point about Bush – who, whether you agree or not, is one of the most accomplished and outré songwriters of her generation – stands. Noonday Dream is the singer-songwriter re-invention of the synth-inspired journey of Hounds of Love, it completely envelops you into a world where there is a blue sky, an endless dusty landscape and all you have with you is your writer’s intuition and your trusty guitar.
Other standout tracks on the album like the haunting ‘What the Moon Does’, the animalistic ‘Someone in the Doorway’ or the sombre closer ‘Murmurations’ go to show you just h0w far Howard is willing to commit to his craft to create his own world within this album.
This album won’t be for everyone, but if you’re committed to trusting Howard and take his hand as he guides you on his journey, you’ll discover songs and moods that you didn’t think were possible.
Noonday Dream is a singer-songwriter album with not many instruments other than a guitar, but it also feels so much more than that. It’s effortlessly ambitious in its lyrical content and its world-building.
We don’t know about you, but we’re fully invested in joining Ben Howard on this journey, and however many more he has planned.
Words by George Griffiths