This was originally written in my journal on 11.20.12, but because Ben Howard is one of my favorite musicians, and this EP is hauntingly beautiful, I've decided to repost it on this blog since it's worthy of all audiences to hear.
I've been anxiously awaiting this release since hearing some of these songs live during his live performance in NYC in Sept 2012. And this album definitely doesn't disappoint...how could it with that amazingly, unique English voice?
I would definitely say that this collection has a much more aggressive feeling than his previous release, Every Kingdom. I mean, just look at the cover art - Every Kingdom has a refreshing water scene of whites and blues whereas The Burgh Island E.P. has almost an entirely black cover besides the moonlight (or is that sunlight) peeking out from behind dark clouds. The sound is still distinctively his own with complex guitar chords, complimentary percussion arrangements, and heartfelt vocals. But the songs themselves have a more desperate, harsh sound. And even the lyrics are a bit more bitter than the more peaceful lines in Every Kingdom.
"Oh maybe you were free before my blackened wind covered you. I took the sing from your song. I made a bed where you don't belong" from the most gorgeous, urgent song on the E.P, "Esmerelda". "Oates in the Water" is another stand-out song which begins very solemn and picks up aggression throughout the 5-minute song. "And you'll find loss and you'll fear what you found when weather comes, tear him down...go your way, I'll take the long way 'round, I'll find my own way down, as I should." Powerful lyrics followed by an equally powerful instrumental section that I can feel deep within my soul.
In its entirety, The Burgh Island E.P. is an extremely emotional collection. It further illustrates his talent and is evidence of his long-standing musical appreciation, and various influences from his childhood through the present. Obviously he's as incredible in the studio as he is live - a truly talented individual. Hoping he makes his way back to NYC soon!