A study in gorgeously-crafted serenity, Ben Howard’s affecting acoustic pop melodies sweep through Every Kingdom, an effort steeped in slow-building crescendos and heart-in-mouth splendor. Howard’s debut is more ‘childlike stumbling through nature’ then ‘Saturday night on the town’; sparsely constructed and leaning willfully on some sublime vocals and clever, pace-changing acoustic guitar underlays. There is an occasional dingy out-take, in the despairing ‘Diamonds’ and ‘The Fear’, which offer just enough to swing Howard away from Jack Johnson and into Bon Iver territory. In ‘The Wolves’ the singer slips into a moment of pure organic bliss-out, but the selling point is clear: sparse, hollow, emotive guitar-pop done unusually well. James Hendicott
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KEY TRACKS: ‘OLD PINE’, ‘THE WOLVES’.
FOR FANS OF: JULIE FEENEY, BON IVER, KAREN O AND THE KIDS.