Ben Howard - Old Pine
I heard Ben Howard, the South Devon singer songwriter, sometime last year with the chance hearing of his EP at that time; 'These Waters'. From that point onwards, I was desperately hounding his PR agent to review the EP that I had been told was in the pipeline. Months after and finally that EP is sat right before me in the form of 'Old Pine' a four track EP released via Island Records.
Opening track 'Old Pine' nestles perfectly with a vocal melody seemingly telling a tale of the outdoor lifestyle that I'm sure Ben has experienced to such a high degree given his place of residence. This entwines with the quirky jaunty acoustic guitar, that is suitably backed up with the soothing sound of cello, while the spare drumming (think less is more and you have it) builds the track to a finale that see's Ben using his voice to create soulful howls reminiscent of Ray Lamontagne. 'Follaton Wood' has a country-esque guitar style with hints of steel guitar being played in the distance, the vocals sounding very much like that of my favourite Damien Rice track 'Coconut Skin', while finishing track 'Three Tree Town' works around a simple low key plucked guitar sound, enhanced by Ben Howard's single voice, sounding very similar to that of Angus Stone.
At the young age of twenty three, Ben Howard is creating folk music that belies his age showing that the song is more important than anything else, often making this release seem low key, but beautifully so. This in turn creates links to the greats, the likes of Nick Drake and Bob Dylan while adding a clear south west influence, a laidback summer sound that fans of Jack Johnson may appreciate. 'Old Pine' is hardly an album that will blow you away for its virtuoso talent, but I'm glad that Island Records have picked up Ben Howard because it's clear he has an ear for penning a great song and that aside, he has a fantastic voice to back it up. 'Old Pine' is clearly the chill out CD for a hot summer of lounging around and hopefully this summer can live up to it.