Following his debut album, Every Kingdom, Ben Howard won awards for British Breakthrough Act and British Solo Male Artist at 2013’s BRIT awards. His fusion of traditional pop music with folk, and a generous helping of infectious riffs, most clearly displayed on his top 10 selling “Only Love”, received much critical acclaim.
No pressure then. Well, not really at all. I Forget Where We Were confidently changes it up, Howard’s music having matured and becoming more self-reflective, finding a new artistic direction in the process.
The title track is representative of this shift. Pensive in nature, there is an awareness of the expectation, as described above, surrounding this album.
Sometimes pop-folk has a tendency to feel a little forced or confused, like it should be one thing or the other without being either. This album succeeds in harmonizing the two genres, if erring towards a more consciously alternative sound than its predecessor.
“She Treats Me Well” has a catchy vocal melody, which alongside a sometimes John Martyn-esque intricate rhythm section is particularly effective.
The best track on the album, “Conrad”, comes near its end. Probably the song most similar to what Howard’s fans are used to, although the vocals have a slightly sombre tone, against the bright and airy musical accompaniment this creates a rich sonic blend. The chorus is rousing, instantly conjuring images of it being sung across music festivals next summer.
“End of the Affair” deserves an honourable mention for its interesting combination of oriental and Manchester musical styles.
It is a shame that there are not just a few more stand out songs; however this does not make the album bad. Indeed, following up on such a successful debut, it is a credit to Howard that this album holds its own.