So many fucking people can strum out a halfway decent chord and kinda sing. At this point, I assume the only reason babies aren’t whipping out the guitar ’round the campfire and belting out “Fake Plastic Trees” is cause their hands are just too fucking small. And that’s too bad, cause that falsetto would be prodigious as fuck. If you’re like this, don’t worry. Like Martha Stewart said as she plunged that sharpened spoon into the eye of her Nazi prison rival, it’s a good thing. It feels fucking amazing to express yourself through song on a guitar. But, don’t be fooled. That line between chugging out a wobbly version of “Brown Eyed Girl” with all the extra audience bells and “ba ba bas” and being a genuine folk musician is fucking huge. It’s a line paved with factory-fresh torn jeans; egos all believing they’re extra-special hidden gems; and really, really, really, really, really, really, really bad poetry. Like, really bad. Shit that would give the Vogons a run for their money.
So, this begs the question, what’s the difference between a talented campfire singer and a genuine folk musician? That’s simple, it takes: dedication, fearlessness, luck, tenacity, dedication, and a bit more dedication. Your latest album always has a potential of being your last as a folk musician, so every drop of blood and sweat has to go into that fucking thing. The few that make it in this business are something to be recognized. And Ben Howard is one of those few.
Howard has already proven his writing talent in the multi-nominated and prize-winning album Every Kingdom back in ’02. His next two albums (The Burgh Island E.P.  and I Forget Where We Were ) were also well written. But that’s not enough in this fucking game. Howard, no matter how talented, was on the road most folk musicians find themselves years after a big success, being forgotten. But out he came with something challenging, engaging, and completely different. This album is closer to ambient than folk. It’s an album that drifts into honesty like fog rises from still water. These songs aren’t catchy or easy. You can’t pop them in your mouth then go about your day. They linger and take time to digest. The lyrics come out like a thick stew that takes more than one listen to chew through. Luckily for him, the payoff has already been worth it. People fucking like it. Though, like any good musician, Ben is probably somewhere deflecting accolades like a ping-pong Olympian as he continually asks himself, “So, what’s next?” Cause that’s what we, as an audience, demand of him.