By Jason Cooper
“Old Pine” by Ben Howard
Ben Howard is a young acoustic genius who brings freshness to the genre, making it seem brand new, even though his songs give the feeling of wisdom and rustic authenticity as old as the hills.
At the tender age of 23 he is already a guitar whiz, having mastered the techniques of plucking, slapping and hammering the instrument for rhythmic effects. He regularly sells out over 400-capacity venues, including some of the most well-known venues in the United Kingdom. On top of that, Ben has acquired a massive following through the UK’s loyal surfing community, and it has already spread over the oceans to Germany, Holland and France.
Because of his parents’ record collection while growing up, Ben admits that he is still fairly addicted to all the legendary 60s and 70s songwriters, from Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan to Van Morrison and The Rolling Stones. Ben, interestingly enough, studied journalism in Falmouth, and filled a short-lived position at a surf magazine in Newquay. But he gave it up six months before his graduation when he realized that he could “get away with being a musician full-time”.
“A lot of people said I was crazy to leave that close to the end of the course,” he laughs, “but a friend of mine said, ‘The most beautiful lives are the ones that take risks’, which was encouraging. And my parents were very supportive. They told me to do whatever makes me happy.”
His latest album, Every Kingdom, was recorded in a converted barn in his hometown, Devon. After finishing the album, Ben said “There’s a lot of stuff about people and relationships, and about myself – I’m quite self-indulgent in that respect.” Ben’s band consists of India on cello and Chris on bass and drums. They have toured all over the world, and life on the road has given them a heightened awareness for each other‘s sound. One can hear this in their note-perfect harmonies and gentle delivery of the music. They have the capability of quieting a room down to a hush, and leaving their audience breathless yet wanting more.
Ben sees himself as the latest in “rootsy”, folk-rock musicians. Creating a unique sound with his husky voice and expert acoustic techniques, Ben Howard combines the classic and comforting feel of old music with a forward-thinking lifestyle. He is a role-model to young musicians and surfers, such as myself. With it being spring at the moment, Ben’s song, Old Pine, is a breath of fresh air.