Ben Howard is my favourite singer-songwriter. One whose songs leave me introspective & nostalgic. They start with a mesmerising guitar intro; enveloping his vocals as the lyrics are sung. His old albums Every Kingdom & I Forget What We Were featured songs I associate with morose & lonely places; and yet there is an ember of hope in them. Songs like Gracious, I Will Be Blessed inspire a unique courage to look at the sadness and find beauty in them.
A couple of weeks ago, Ben Howard released a few new tracks and announced his new album Collections From The Whiteout. I looked back at the years I have spent singing along with Ben Howard, in sorrow and joy, I realized I have never wrote a word about them. I tried to include his words into my posts by embedding his videos but they never meshed together.
In anticipation of his new album, here is my attempt to write about my six favourite songs by Ben Howard:
Nica Libres At Dusk
Noonday Dream (2018) featured this song which quickly became my favourite track. The music video featured Ben walking around in the empty desert slowly making his way back up the hill. It is because of the video I have associated this song with the thought of dry and empty.
This song makes me feel that I can see the coast in the distance. It, however, doesn’t capture hope, it just acknowledges the bone-deep tiredness of the trek so far. To me, this song is also the cynical part of my mind that always says everything that could be wrong with the world is wrong and we just can’t change anything. We just have to keep moving on.
Conrad is the first song that made me listen on repeat. The simplistic guitar strings plucked at the beginning reeled me in, Ben’s voice throughout the song kept me listening intently to try and understand a few words.
The chorus line ‘Oh I loved you with the good and careless of me’ was a line I kept ruminating over. The few words I caught through the song: ‘we are alone’, ‘we were made to change’ painted an image that I have never been able to shake off.
This song may have been about something else entirely but to me was about lost friends. The ones who you really wanted to be good friends with but never could. This song made me realize that it is okay that certain friendships didn’t last.
Old Pine starts with a guitar intro which is folksy and captivating. The seamless transition into verse makes me sway my head in tune and reminiscence about old memories.
I remember my first friends and how much I laughed with them. I remember the mistakes I made, the times I hurt people. I recall the good times and wince at the bad choices. This song reminds me those things were in the past & one day in the future I will be looking back at today.
‘We grow Old…’ this song says and celebrates the act of changing over life. This song makes me feel good about growing old and hopefully wiser.
Old Pine celebrates aging.
Pain and broken things. This song is listening to a trainwreck and yet having a wistful smile on your lips. Sometimes there is no happy ending to things. Sometimes, even if you know better, you still make a mistake.
This song is a Ode to those tragedies.
If I have to introduce Ben Howard to anyone, this is the song I will always choose. It sums up his songs completely, a song about a promise to meet at a certain point. I listened to this song on repeat on one of the worst days and I had the courage to expect better from myself.
What A Day
A track from his latest album, this song is unusual from Ben Howard. This song is about joy & hope. I don’t have a lot of emotions associated with this song yet, but every time I listen to it I am reminded of a sunny day after a week of rain. The day you get out of the house and feel instantly better.
I eagerly await the full album release and I expect it to be as great as Ben Howard’s other albums.
PS: Found out that Ben Howard is also a part of a band called as A Blaze of Feather.