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Ben Howard

Every Kingdom (Communion)

Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., March 16, 2012

SXSW 2012 Records

Ben Howard

Every Kingdom (Communion)

"Hot sand on toes, cold sand in sleeping bags/I've come to know that memories were the best things you ever had," opens Ben Howard on his debut LP, which receives stateside release next month. The rousing acoustic clip that breaks upon the revelation of "Old Pine" sets the tension between nostalgia and progression, and after earning accolades for the LP last year, the UK singer-songwriter finds himself in a similar position. Kingdom carries its British folk traditions well, but also pushes forward with a more contemporary, rebellious rhythm that adds a fevered restlessness to Howard's contemplative Nick Drake sentiments, as on the measured but aggressive bursts of "The Wolves" and "Only Love." And it's that temptation toward the unhinged that makes even the meditative creases of "Everything" and "Black Flies" wrinkle with more promise than the usual folk fare. Kingdom announces a promising new talent, but now Howard must prove he can work with more than just memory. (Fri., 9:30pm, St. David's Historic Sanctuary)

***.5

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