For a guy with only one album to his name, Ben Howard is one of the brightest new musicians to emerge in 2012. His fanbase in his native England far eclipses anywhere else in the world, but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t catching on to the singer’s earnest brand of melodic folk.
Though he began playing music at a young age, Howard didn’t start focusing on music until he was in college. Surprisingly enough, he was a budding journalist at University College Falmouth (which is in Cornwall, UK) before he started focusing on writing his brand of folk. Steadily playing shows in the area helped build him a following, which spread by word of mouth throughout England. Soon thereafter, he signed to Island Records. For a new artist to go from college to playing sold-out shows across England in a few years is pretty remarkable, yet Howard has bucked the trend and done exactly that.
Working with a two-piece backing band, Howard released his album, Every Kingdom, in the UK to accolades. Though it came out a year ago, the record has done well, peaking at number six on the album charts there and even achieving Gold status. This newfound fame allowed for Howard to hit the European festival circuit and for him to head to America in order to catch on with the notoriously fickle audience there.
Over the course of music history, many artists who are big in England may not crossover into the psyche of Americans. Unfortunately, this has happened to rockers like Elbow to rappers like Dizzee Rascal. But not Howard. Surprisingly, it took a cover of a pop hit to get Americans to notice the singer.
During an appearance in the Radio 1 Live Lounge with Ferne Cotton in May, Howard did a cover of Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe,” which as many know (for better or worse), has been one of the biggest songs of the year. Needless to say, the song went viral and thus, became a hit in it’s own right. Although the vibe of the song is wee bit different than the original (think haunting vocals), people still dug the tune.
As we noted when he played at the Troubadour in June, Howard’s reserved demeanor on-stage can be a bit boring, but the good thing is that this is more likely due to nerves than aloofness. If you were a 25-year-old touring the U.S. for the first time, you’d be a tad anxious too, right? Even so, the singer is returning to the States for a bigger tour and deservedly is getting support from radio, and is playing larger theatres as opposed to smaller club. If you have the chance to check out Ben Howard, it’s something you won’t regret.