Howard goes through evolution in second album

By Shruthika Pochampally
Staff Writer

I first discovered Ben Howard my sophomore year of high school. The melodious tunes of the Burgh Island EP has had me hooked since my first listen.

Since, Howard has become one of my most favorite artists. From early morning coffee runs to late night car drives, Ben is always at the top of my most played playlist. It is something about his voice, the way he knocks his fingers against his guitar and his incredibly distinct style that is so captivating.

Howard is known especially in European countries for his Best British Breakthrough Act and Best British Solo Artist BRIT Awards as well as his album, Every Kingdom’s nomination for a Mercury Prize.

So when Howard’s second album I Forget Where We Were was released in the United States on Oct. 21, I was ecstatic to hear what new masterpieces he created.

Howard's recently released single I Forget Where We Were, is one of the two off of his second album, also titled the same.

Howard’s recently released single I Forget Where We Were, is one of the two off of his second album, also titled the same.

Howard’s music had never disappointed, and I didn’t expect it to now. But two minutes in, I was mildly let down and still waiting for the song “Small Things” to speak to me. The album seems much more lyric and instrument heavy, versus the instrumental feel behind Howard’s more acoustic first album.

The sudden pace changes and the prominent instrumentals are all prominent, just like his first album. But for some reason, the connection I usually feel is missing. The first song, “Small Things” above all, is a let down. I have yet to feel the surge of emotion that usually overcomes me when listening to one of my favorite artists.

After the initial shock of the letdown, I naturally lowered by expectations. And it is all uphill after that. The second song, “Rivers In Your Mouth”, is Howard’s most upbeat song yet. The mystic lyrics finally resonate with me, and then I knew Howard is back again.

The third song, “I Forget Where We Were” is one of the two singles released prior to the album. The song is the most beautiful and serene off of this album. My favorite lyrics from this album are also in this song; “hello love, for you I have so many words that I, I forget where we were,” Howard sings about what I interpret as a reminder of the immense amount of time in the world, and the importance of living and feeling in the moment.

Though I know every guitar strum and word of this song by heart, I could not bring myself to skip past it to get to the newer songs. If my life was a movie, this is the song I would want to play in the background of every peaceful scene.

The rest of the album is what I initially expected. As most artists’ second albums, Ben’s has a drastically distinct aura to it compared to his debut, almost as if now he is a completely new artist in itself. But behind this transformation remains the soulful singer-songwriter I have always known and loved.

As a whole, I Forget Where We Were seems a distinctly new genre of its own. It is an unexpected blend of Burgh Island EP Ben Howard and this new Ben Howard that no one had seen coming. The amalgam of emotions, I realize after listening the second time through, is the same as I always have felt after listening to Howard and the safe, warm feeling is back again, this time with a hint of foreboding.

Overall, there isn’t much to complain about. Some of my most favorite songs are on this new album. I now have an endless supply of lyrics to tape to my bedroom walls, and over an hour more of Ben Howard to add to my “late night drives” playlist.

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